The Post Trip Coma: How Long Does It Affect You?

03/17/2015 10:09 am ET | Updated May 17, 2015


Granted, I'm not flying three and four day trips anymore since I've hung up my wings as a flight attendant, but as a very frequent business traveler I still suffer from this "mental disorder" that is plaguing flight attendants daily: The Post-Trip Coma or PTC. 

I'm sure if you're a crewmember you've experienced it before. I still experience it, especially after working on the road for a few days. After feeling depressed and lonely thinking that I was the only flight attendant & frequent traveler who suffered from this people-hating bed ridden disorder I did a bit of research. I found out that I'm not alone.  I've put together a check list you can use to diagnose yourself with PTC (much like you'd do on WebMD) and a quick how-to guide for your friends and family to understand how delicate you are during this time and how to act while in your presence.

Post Trip Coma
(also known as PTC)

Symptoms include:

  • Awaking the day after your trip groggy and feeling like you suffer from "medicine head"
  • Not wanting to get out of bed.
  • Not wanting to see daylight.
  • Not wanting to see or be around people.
  • Not wanting to get out of bed.
  • Not wanting to answer your phone.
  • Letting your email pile up.
  • Letting dishes in your sink (should you get out of bed) pile up.
  • Not wanting to get get out of bed.
  • Lack energy to respond to text messages (yes, lifting a finger is physically painful)
  • Not wanting to shower.
  • Not wanting to see or think of an airplane.
  • Not wanting to get out bed.
  • You hallucinate and your kids, husband, significant other, and relatives remind you of needy passengers.
  • The door bell scares you.
  • Not wanting to get out bed.
If you experience any of these symptoms after a trip you most likely suffer from PTC. But please, rest assured, you are not alone.

I hope this message is heard loud and clear and serves as a public service announcement to friends and family members of flight attendants around the world. The day after a trip, your flight attendant friend or relative may make you believe that they hate you but please remember -- they don't hate you. They just dislike you for 24 hours.

That's right PTC only lasts for 24 hours. In fact, some studies show that it begins to wear off around 15-18 hours but in the most extreme cases of international flights or four day trips with six legs a day, or a flight where the flight attendant was yelled at for over three hours about a situation that they had no control over and couldn't fix, it has been proven to last the full 24 hours and may even continue through 36 hours.

A lot of people think that the first sign that PTC is wearing off is when the flight attendant in question emerges from their bed. This is not true. Just because the patient has left their restful state doesn't mean that the effects of PTC are gone. The patient may still be irritable, lazy and not wanting to speak to anyone. The first sign that things are improving is when the flight attendant opens the blinds and/or curtains. When the crewmember is able to withstand the bright and cheerful object known as the sun, things begin to look brighter for their friends and family as well.

Here are some possible remedies to help speed along PTC but please remember, none of these are guaranteed. Bobby Laurie and the Savvy Stews take no responsibility if your flight attendant screams, yells, or becomes abusive if you try any of these tactics and they backfire.

  • Make them breakfast in bed (if you live with them)
  •   + Note: If you do not live with them, DO NOT go over unannounced.
  • Leave notes, rather than talking
  • Do the dishes, so they don't have to.
  • Open the blinds/curtains in communal areas half way so the room remains dark, but let's in a little light
  • Brew coffee and have it ready -- the aroma helps.
Some things to keep in mind if you're a friend of a flight attendant with PTC:

  • It's not personal if they don't call or respond to your attempts to make contact via text and email.
  • Don't call them, let them call you.
  • If you made plans with a flight attendant on the day after a trip, don't be shocked if they cancel
  • Do not hold canceled plans against them
  • If contact is made reassure crewmember that it's okay if plans are canceled because you understand how they feel.