a glass of wine next to a window

You’ve probably seen, heard, read or experienced authorities running temperature checks and other measures for people coming off planes. The reason is simple: symptomatic people with covid-19 are likely to be running a temperature, and checking each passenger may help with quarantine needs and contact tracing. So what if you’ve had a couple drinks to ease the mood on the flight, and come off a plane sweaty and feeling hot?

a glass of wine next to a windowAlcohol Does Not Raise Body Temperature

Scientific consensus is very clear on alcohol and body temperature: it doesn’t actually raise it. That doesn’t mean you won’t have a shiny sheen of sweat across your forehead, or feel hot , but alcohol  doesn’t inherently raise your core temperature, it actually lowers it. Take it from neuroscientist and toxicologist Ted Simon…

“Alcohol causes the blood vessels in your skin to dilate, shunting blood from your core to your periphery. Your body temperature isn’t actually changing; you’re just redistributing the heat,”

What this means is that you sweat because the blood flowing to the “perhiphery” tells the brain that it’s hot, even though it may not actually be, and so the body sweats to lower your temperature. Alcohol effectively confuses your body into messages that it’s hot out, and therefore should sweat to cool you down.

a man wearing a mask on a planeThere’s just one caveat to the advice: excessive drinking raises blood pressure, and when blood pressure increases to certain levels, body temperatures tend to as well, particularly for those who already suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. Basically, if you suffer from either, be extra cautious.

GSTP reached out to a variety of doctors who offered similar, simple advice, for those unwilling to part ways with a few drinks in the air: pop a couple ibuprofen or paracetomol about an hour before any temperature checks.

Displaying Signs Of Covid-19 Symptoms

Now that we’ve got that scientific myth of alcohol and raised temperature out of the way, the answer isn’t actually any clearer as to worries from drinking and flying during covid-19, unless the answer is simply not to. Health officials in airports are often not only scanning for raised temperatures, but also for people who look unwell and symptomatic.

Red eyes and a nice glossy sweat on the forehead are certainly more likely to raise eyebrows and attention than those without, even if it’s not the entire picture. Basically, by drinking too much in the air, you might be doing yourself a disservice by looking more unwell than you are and bringing undue attention.

Obviously, temperatures in planes and destinations can play a part in how you’re feeling and appearing too.

For most travelers, a drink or two isn’t likely to make any difference whatsoever in your body temperature and therefore unlikely to cause any issues with health screeners, but excessive drinking is going to greatly increase the chances. If you can’t help yourself, at least consider the Dr’s advice above, or enjoy the extra battery of tests, and or quarantine.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. Some airports have had temperature checks in place for a long time (HKG for example), if drinking before passing through these was an issue then, well…having carried out this experiment numerous times, I consider myself to have done my bit for science here 😉

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