This Is Why Some People’s Ears Might Bleed On Airplanes

Last week, a Southwest Airlines flight was forced to divert after numerous passengers began to experience pain in their ears. A least one passenger’s ears were bleeding.

The reason? The plane had failed to pressurize properly. A similar issue struck at least two flights in 2018, causing passengers to present with bleeding ears. In the case of the most recent event, a mechanism within the plane malfunction and left passengers exposed to uncomfortable pressure.

“The human ear has tubes that allow equalization of the air on the back side of the eardrum. Rapid pressure changes can overwhelm the ear and cause the drum to rupture,” Todd Curtis, director of the Airsafe.com Foundation, explained to The Points Guy.

The experience can be painful, but the eardrum normally recovers without lasting damage. And thankfully, this kind of malfunction is rare. If you begin to feel ear pain or bleeding onboard a plane, you should alert a member of the cabin crew immediately.