Flying And Electromagnetic Radiation – How To Minimize Your Exposure

A few days ago I received a question from Jim, one of my readers, regarding flying and EMFs. As I thought the reply might be useful to anyone electrosensitive/concerned about emfs who is considering flying on a plane, below you can see Jim's question followed by my reply.

I really enjoy your blog/news service on EHS. I became sensitive last fall when my office situation changed to a place where I became literally surrounded with dozens of wireless devices. I had clues to my sensitivity before this but was able to live normally. Now I pay attention to what is around me and leave the area if it gets too “hot”. I carry a small GHz meter with me at all times.
Now, my question: I have not done any major travelling since I've become sensitive. This is because of the potential problem with hotels and the roadways being loaded with microwave. If I get an exposure while away from home, I have no “safe” place like my home to go and recover.
What are your thoughts about flying. I know airports will be a bad place because there is lots of cell phone/Iphone/blackberry usage. Going through security has lots of EMF's. If I could somehow tolerate the airport and board the plane as late as possible, then maybe I could tolerate the actual flight. Do you think that there is lots of EMF on the plane while in-flight? I know passengers shouldn't be a problem because they have to turn their wireless devices to airplane mode. I know they may be using laptops, but at least they are in “battery” mode so at least the charger is not working. Sitting in a big metal tube and being trapped for hours doesn't seem very feasible. I just wondered about your thoughts on this.


This is the reply I sent to Jim :

Hi Jim

Air travel is something that scared the hell out of me for a long time.

I've been electrosensitive since 2002. I've never had cancer or a tumor but at one time I was extremely ill with this condition. I couldn't use my cell phone, I couldn't use my PC, I couldn't use my ordinary phone, I couldn't watch TV for any length of time. I had symptoms in the car and socializing became practically impossible. At one point I was so sensitive that I could even sense on other people when they'd been around a cell phone which had been switched on.

I'm not saying this to gain sympathy. I'm saying this to explain to what extent I was electrosensitive.

Electrosensitive Man Flies To The Caribbean

Flying and electromagnetic radiationMy philosophy with electrical sensitivity right from the very beginning was “I'm not going to be beaten by this thing”. So just as I'd decided that I had to carry on working I also decided to continue to take holidays as a family. But post 2002 these were to mainly ‘not so' far away locations.

In 2007 we'd decided as a family to go to the Caribbean. The beaches and hotels looked just stunning in the brochure. But I was still struggling with my symptoms of electrosensitivity

My first big problem was the airport. The second one was the eight-hour plane flight. Despite my condition, something inside me said I should go ahead with the holiday. So I did.

EMFs In The Airport

The worst part of it was the anticipation. We flew from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. CDG airport is like a big gold fish bowl which you can't go out of to get a breath of fresh air and you can't open any windows. I found it very oppressive and the thoughts of all the EMFs being emitted from the airport WiFi and Radar was not comforting.

When we got to the security checks I was feeling very sensitized. But I'm sure a lot of this was self induced stress brought on by the thought of the flight which was to follow.

Queuing in the airport was a challenge. The airport seemed to be full of people having long drawn out cell phone conversations about nothing very important. I maneuvered to avoid them.

Flying and EMFs On The Airplane

Before we booked the holiday I'd got all these ideas about the EMFs I was going to be subjected to. I'd already researched the type of plane we were going to fly on, looked where the communication antennas were placed and where the most electronic equipment was. Of course all my worries were largely unfounded and I suffered little to no ill effects either on the outward bound or the return journey. Here’s how I did it :

  • we booked early and requested seats at the back of the plane away from the instrumentation,
  • sometimes you cannot book the seats and until 24 or 36 hours before takeoff so we followed through to make sure that indeed we were getting the seats at the back of the plane
  • we made sure I was not sitting next to one of the jet engines, which also give off significant EMFs
  • I requested a letter from my doctor explaining my condition, this was so that should I need to change seats for any reason I would get a sympathetic response
  • I also equipped myself with a large net made from canopy mesh fabric so I could cover my entire body if I needed to (its relatively inexpensive and gives reasonable protection even beyond 10Ghz)
  • I equipped myself with a smaller protection net, and an ordinary hat
  • I took a supply of melatonin tablets with me so I could induce sleep if I needed to
  • I made sure I was flying on a plane which did not have TV screens in the headrests
  • I prepared myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the experience

The Critical Part Of The Flight

As far as the flight itself goes I didn't feel any electrosensitivity symptoms. The most challenging part of the journey was when the plane landed. As soon as the plane touched the tarmac was switch on their cell phones and start ringing their friends and families. This was tough and I did feel trapped. There were four of us in our party so we just swapped seats to make sure that I was as far away from other passenger’s cell phones as I could be.

I could have used my hat and protective nets, but I chose not to. The exposure was short lived and I did not feel any after effects.

Tips For A Low EMF Holiday

Taking the necessary precautions for the flight is important but perhaps even more important is your holiday accommodation. See my article Tips For A Low EMF Vacation.

Flying and EMFs – My Conclusion

  • yes airports are difficult because they're full of people using cell phones and similar devices
  • my experience was that I didn't feel particularly affected by the in-flight EMFs
  • passengers don't use cell phones during the flight, which is a godsend, but you do have to be prepared to endure a few difficult moments at the end of the flight when people switch their cell phones on
  • have shielded clothing or a shielding net with you on the flight so that you are prepared for the worst
  • when you land be sure to earth as soon as you can, take a barefoot stroll on the beach or just walk barefoot where possible

Since this flight in 2007 to the Caribbean we have done a multi stop-over trip, Madrid, New York, Memphis and Florida. Then last year we did a 30 hour door-to-door trip to Hawaii and we are planning another cross Atlantic trip this year.

My advice re flying and EMFs is take that holiday, plan, prepare and equip yourself well for the journey. Be sure that your trip will go well and it will go well.

For my WiFi free flight analysis click here.

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  • Soula said,

    Dear Lloyd, Did the plane you were on NOT have those “personal screens” in the back of every seat? This is the killer thing for me on airplanes. I live in fear of having to take another plane. The only solution I came up with was to book in the very last row of the plane. You may not be able to recline the seat, but I choose that over having a radiating screen right up against the back of my head!

    I tried to find out which flights had these personal screens and which did not, but the airlines considered this information would violate security measures somehow and would not tell me anything. I tried going by some websites that claim to give information about each plane, but discovered that they were wrong! when I actually got on the plane. I was lucky to have the seat at the back.

    And I hear the new body-scanning screens during the security check-in are very strong EMF radiators.

    Thanks for your work. Do you know about “smart” meters and this onrushing problem? You could check out a bunch of info at, our “Action Wiki” where we are desperately fighting.

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Soula
    The “personal screens” in the back of every seat were the biggest single nightmare of mine before I stepped on the plane. I tried to make enquiries before the flight to find out about this, but this was one thing neither the travel agent nor the airline could give me any assurances about, this is why I booked my seat in the last row of the airplane. The return flight was the same. But on my most recent transatlantic trip last year, when I boarded the plane I discovered to my horror that there were personal screens. Again I was in the last row, and I actually never really felt anything. The thing is to be prepared, protective nets etc and don’t let your sensitivity run your life!
    PS I believe I went through one of the new body scans last year, I came out OK, the thing is it only lasts a very short time.
    I will be covering smart meters shortly.

  • Kim said,

    I am interested to know how you found planes without tv’s in the headrests? I thought all planes had these?

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Kim
    All planes don’t have these, but there are more and more planes equipped with screens in the headsets.The way I get round this issue is to book my seat in the last row at the back of the plane, or if its towards the middle of the plane, on a seating row which backs onto an interior wall.

  • Kim said,

    I understand, however the only problem with the middle of the plane is being near the engine or wing, i’m convinced i had a bad reaction as a result of this situation-and i have issues about being near the bathroom as a result of soaps, chemicals- are their shields one could bring to put in front of the screen that would be effective?

  • Lloyd said,

    Yes, being near the engines is to be avoided – high magnetic fields, I have felt these. In the end it comes down to a trade-off of all these factors. I can’t see how shielding the screen would be effective….. you would need to shield not only your own screen but also the one in your headrest and those of your immediate neighbors. In addition to the tips mentioned above shielded clothing should provide some relief – even if you don’t wear these clothes at least take them with you.

  • JWest said,

    My Trifield meter measured 150 to 200 milli-gauss on the floor of the airliner. Subsequent flight (return) measured same in different areas. I suspect EMF may be the cause of the notorious “airline heart attacks”, etc.

  • Humsick said,

    I really appreciate your informative website. I became ES after a “wired” PLC smart meter was installed last year. I’ve heard a continuous low frequency hum plus a buzzing sound in my ear since which amplifies when exposed to wireless communication signals or high magnetic fields.

    I just booked my husband a flight to see his sick mother whom I would love to visit also, but I’m afraid to fly now. The opportunity to access the airline’s in flight WiFi for a fee was presented while I booked online. The thought of sitting inside a metal tube for hours with Wifi signals bouncing around is more than I can bear, so I will remain at home.

    Have you been on a WiFi enabled flight since its availability? I would appreciate opinions from ES persons who have experienced this.

  • Lloyd said,

    Whenever possible, I book with airlines with older fleets thus avoiding/minimizing the risk of the screens in the seats, WiFi etc. So I have not travelled on a WiFi enabled flight yet but I have no doubt that WiFi will become widespread, so at some point its inevitable. What I can say is don’t assume that EMFs at altitude are going to affect you in the same way as EMFs on the ground. This has been my experience. First check and see if you can fly with an airline where WiFi is not installed and then if you do have to “bite the bullet” prepare yourself as best you (see tips above for dealing with EMFs on the plane).

  • C Zehfus said,

    Your tips are logical and will help some.
    Yet they will not work for everyone. People have an individual biological reaction to pulsed radiofrequency radiation. For example, a person with serious breathing or nervous system symptoms upon exposure might not want to risk flying. Also, that landing frenzy of everyone powering up their phones might be enough to make some people seriously impaired/ill.

    Plus, the truth is not everyone actually turns their cell phone to airplane mode in flight.

    ALso for some people having a shielding material touch their body even with cloth between does not work. So personal shielding in a plane will not work.

    Thanks for bringing the topic up here.
    Ultimately, working towards WiFi-free accomodation in public transportation is important – while trying to continue to travel if possible. Thanks.

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