Aircraft Cabins: Too Hot for Comfort?Ever felt uncomfortably hot (or cold) when flying? You’re not alone. It seems that aircraft cabin temperatures are a sticking point for many flyers, and are something that very few airlines get consistently right.

Many AFF members find that aircraft cabin temperatures, generally, are too hot. While it varies across airlines and aircraft types, it also seems that some airlines are worse than others. For example, numerous members say they always feel too hot on Etihad flights.

Here’s what AFF members have to say…

I recently returned from overseas flying with several airlines (mostly in J) and found the cabin temperatures to be very warm across the board. Certainly over 21c (which I always assume is ideal).

Almost always find it too warm. I can’t remember ever being cold on a plane. I always laugh when I see the blankets!

A serial offender for me is Etihad (all J travel) they seem to keep their cabins almost as hot as the desert their home hub is in!

So, how are aircraft cabin temperatures controlled and why does it often feel too warm on board? A couple of our pilot contributors from AFF’s Ask the Pilot thread have chimed in. AviatorInsight explains that the cabin temperature is controlled by the pilots, although the cabin crew have some degree of control on some types of planes.

The master environmental control system (ECS) will be in the flight deck. Depending on the aircraft type (777) the cabin supervisor may be able to control the temp a couple of degrees either side of the master setting (21ºc). On the 737 though it is all controlled through the flight deck, there’s no controls in the cabin for the flight attendants. I usually find there are no complaints when I can keep the air coming out of the gaspers at around 20ºc. A very finicky control and constantly needs updating until the cruise.

However, the temperature can vary in different parts of the plane. Even if it’s too warm in some parts of the aircraft, other passengers may be feeling very cold – especially those seated near the emergency exits, according to jb747.

Get a seat near a door. They’re normally freezing.

The temps are about 21ºC. Even when the cabin crew can modify them, we still see the end result, and it rarely varies, unless the system is having problems.

It’s also possible that some cabin crews could intentionally raise the temperature by a few degrees because the crew areas (such as galleys and areas near the doors) are not as well heated as the rest of the cabin. This has the effect of keeping the cabin crew comfortable while passengers overheat.

Most galleys are also not heated (for reasons unknown to me), so when the cabin crew are hiding away in the galleys they tend to heat up the cabin (if they can) or ask us to.

While dressing lightly can help, you could also consult a flight attendant if you’re feeling too hot on board. There is a chance the crew will be able to turn down the heat a little, especially if other passengers are also finding it too warm. So it can’t hurt to ask.

On numerous international flights I’ve had cause to politely enquire “if others are feeling warm, and if so, maybe the temperature might be lowered”. Often met with success.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Cabin Temperatures?


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]