I am pleased to report the first in-depth scientific review of flatulence. It answers a number of questions, but the most important one is whether it’s okay to fart on a plane.
The answer: Yes!
It turns out that changes in air pressure at altitude actually do make you more flatulent. So instead of worrying about social embarrassment of passing gas, “just let it go.” From the article in the New Zealand Medical Journal:
“(Holding back) holds significant drawbacks for the individual, such as discomfort and even pain, bloating, dyspepsia (indigestion), pyrosis (heartburn) just to name but a few resulting abdominal symptoms. Moreover, problems resulting from the required concentration to maintain such control may even result in subsequent stress symptoms.”
What about up in the cockpit? That’s a bit tougher:
“On the one hand, if the pilot restrains a fart, all the drawbacks previously mentioned, including impaired concentration, may affect his abilities to control the plane. On the other hand, if he lets go of the fart, his co-pilot may be affected by its odour, which again reduces safety onboard the flight.”
(Oh, and this study also found one other thing: women's farts smell worse than men’s!)