Flier Says Lack of Legroom Almost Killed Him

[Travel ★★★]


(P1) An Air Canada passenger says a cramped 10-hour flight from Chile to Toronto in January has taken a serious toll on his otherwise impeccable health, and he wants the airline to “take a good hard look at what they’re doing,” he tells the CBC. Colin Savage, a 64-year-old avid cyclist and marathon runner, journeyed to Argentina on a hiking trip. After turbulence forced the passengers to stay seated for most of the flight, Savage, who is 6-foot-2, reports being cramped against the seat in front of him. Almost two days after his return home, Savage says he felt severe pain in his lower back. Doctors told him that he had deep vein thrombosis, and that blood clots had traveled up his legs and into his lungs, nearly killing him. The World Health Organization says anyone who travels in a cramped space for more than four hours is at risk; the CDC cites the same number of hours.

(P2) Air Canada said in a statement that the WHO “has advised there is no risk with air travel for healthy passengers” and that travel by train, bus, or car carries “similar risk.” A 2010 Telegraph article on the death of a healthy 36-year-old woman who spent most of a transatlantic flight asleep and died after blood clots reached her heart and lungs explain the mechanics: The veins in the pelvis are somewhat squashed when seated, making for sluggish blood flow in the calves. The reduced flow helps raise the risk of clots, an issue exacerbated by reduced oxygen pressure. As far as cramped spaces go, USA Today reported that seat pitch, the distance from a point on one seat to the same point on the one behind it, and a good approximation of legroom, has shrunk 2 to 5 inches, based on carrier, in 20 years. While airlines are making more extra-legroom seats available, the Wall Street Journal reports they make up more than a quarter of United’s coach seats, travelers have to pay extra.

WORDS: 332

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/225890/plane-passenger-says-lack-of-legroom-almost-killed-him.html

VOCABULARY: cramped, impeccable, transatlantic, squashed, sluggish, exacerbated, pitch, approximation


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. In your opinion do you think airplanes have sufficient legroom? Why or why not?
  3. Should a flier have to pay extra for more legroom, especially if they are tall? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think airlines should “take a good hard look at what they are doing”? Why or why not?


  1. The flight was from Toronto to Chile. (T or F)
  2. How old is the flier?
  3. Deep vein thrombosis is when blood clots flow up from the legs to the brain. (T or F)
  4. Which organization suggested there is no danger of contracting deep vein thrombosis if the person is active and fit?


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Taken a serious toll (P1)
  • Deep vein thrombosis (P1)
  • hard look (P1)

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Image source: by “unknowN’ Getty Images http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/good-bad-ugly-airlines/story?id=18737238

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