You're Not the Only One Who Cries on Planes
Why do we shed tears, especially when airborne?
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Oct 5, 2013 2:53 PM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If you've ever flown alone, you may have felt it. High above the earth, a yawning emptiness might creep over you, along with—perhaps—a tear. It's certainly happened to Elijah Wolfson at the Atlantic, and he's not the only one—a Virgin Atlantic survey once found that 55% of customers "experienced heightened emotions while flying." He asked a behavioral scientist, who told him, "The prototypical situations that induce crying are always related to loss or separation, and/or powerlessness."

Even tears of joy tend to arise from human connections we know deep down could be impermanent. Studies have also shown that tears contain stress hormones and toxins, leading one pair of researchers think they're "outward signs of abrupt shifts in neurophysiology." So why planes? Well, often travel represents an ending or beginning of something, from a vacation to a whole life phase. You're powerless, with your life in the pilot's hands. And it's "one of the loneliest places in the modern world," Wolfon writes. With your phone and electronics switched off, and your fellow passengers staring forward, "you have no choice but to face the fact: you're a person, in the universe, and you are in some way big or small, alone here. You might cry."

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Showing 3 of 11 comments
Goat
Oct 7, 2013 10:14 AM CDT
I did not know this was a thing. Plane crying. I'll have to try it
finkster
Oct 5, 2013 4:25 PM CDT
Attention Ladies and Gentlemen....this is your Captain speaking.....sniff....sniff.. Please put your seats in the upright position....oh God....here it comes And fasten your seat belt....sniff....sob.... We'll be landing shortly....and I'll miss you all.....waaaaahhh!!!!...waaaaahhh!!!
fractal
Oct 5, 2013 4:00 PM CDT
Tears of joy are different than tears of pain or sorrow. They even come out of your eyes differently. Tears of joy leak down the outside corner of your eyes, while tears of pain/sorrow leak down the inside corners.