Cabin temperature – how cold is too cold?

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  • Anonymous


    I spent Sunday night on the Virgin flight to Johannesburg in what felt like near freezing conditions due to a malfunctioning air conditioning unit in the Premium Economy cabin blowing out only cold air.

    The staff attempted to claim the actual temperature was 19 degrees but as I sit here in a hotel room at 19 degrees I can tell you it was significantly colder and more so with a ‘wind chill factor’ of a unit above my head.

    Unfortunately moving seat, even downgrading was not an option, neither was having an spare blanket given it was a full flight (BAs A380 had been cancelled).

    The crews rather standard answer ‘we have told customer services so please write in’.

    The net result was no sleep and a Monday lost work as I was in the hotel room shivering and vomiting.

    I wondered if anyone has ever experienced the same, and if any current or former cabin crew can tell me typically what temperature should a cabin be set at?

    Whilst Im moaning at Virgin Atlantic, any one else think their habit of announcing the passenger and crew numbers in their welcome message sounds more like an accident statistic in the next days papers??!!


    Announcing the pax load on VS is odd. I can only think that it is to warn you that the service will be slow because they have so many passengers and so few cabin crew!!


    I had this on a United flight a few years ago. IAD-BRU on an ancient 763. Also full, and I had snagged an emergency exit in Y (so even colder, although I was grateful for the legroom!). The crew did what they could, with extra hot drinks rounds and apologies/explanations from the flight deck. They even prepared complaint forms and told us exactly what to write in order to get mileage/cash compensation (which were prompt IIRC)

    To be fair to them, there isn’t much they can do about it – but at least the UA crew were apologetic, helpful and admitted there was an issue… You should at least get an apology and some compensation from VS

    Let us know how you get on


    its a great point re the hot drinks and that as my issue to be honest. The crew knew it was an issue, but made no effort to proactively assist passengers. Hot chocolates, even a brandy wouldn’t have gone amiss.
    I cannot begin to explain how uncomfortable it was.

    re the passenger numbers, they’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. Ive raised it with the onboard team and they agree with me it serves little purpose other than the give a number to the crew in case they have to do a count on evacuating (why this can’t be don privately I have no idea). In my mind, It either reminds people the flight is full and to expect poor service as the crew will be rushed off their feet, or demonstrates how poorly VS are doing with loads. Ive never known another airline do it.

    But as I say, whenever I hear it I simply think ‘accident statistic’ and it sends a shiver down my spine, although of course on this flight I was shivering for entirely different reasons!


    It actually can’t be too cold for me. First thing I do in a hotel room is turn a/c as low as it goes.

    On flights, despite the handbook for most airlines stating 21/22 at night you can find it creeping towards 25 frequently.

    So while I sympathise, 19 degrees would be bliss compared to 25.


    I totally sympathise superchris, I hate having a cabin too cold and am always complaining. Being bald does not help if you have an ac unit blowing straight down on you! I was unfortunately travelling with AirAsiaX from KL to Gold Coast in Aus and the cabin was freezing, i kept asking for them to turn the heating up which they obviously didnt do!

    I then asked for a blanket which they wanted to sell to me, which is why they kept the cabin cold, I was not impressed!!


    how did you know I was bald??!! Yes this probably didn’t help.


    LOL superchris, I was talking about myself, I am bald, i would not make such statements without knowing you …..


    Although I prefer the cabin being cold, rather than hot, I did experience a rather cold flight on CX from HKG to Auckland on an A340, in Premium Economy.

    I felt it got quite cold after the first meal service, then it seemed to get colder and colder. For the first time on a flight, i was covering my whole body with the blanket. I thought I was coming down with something, until I saw most of the other passengers snuggled up in blankets too. I saw one passenger on the opposite isle seat, who started by putting on a sweater, before adding his down jacket and hour or two later.


    Can sympathise with cold cabin problems.

    Many years ago I did several overnight road journeys by long distance coach in Latin America, and was warned that the drivers always set the aircon on cold (maybe to stop them nodding off?) and that it would be a good idea to carry a peaked cap and a fleece jacket. Worn with the cap peak pulled low at the front it protected my forehead and scalp from the icy blast.

    To this day I still keep such a cap in my carry on bag, not needed on most flights, but does come in handy from time to time, mostly on locos where their blankets are a revenue stream!


    Being athletic and with a fast metabolism I often find cabin temperatures too cold. I once complained to air NZ and they tole me their room temperature setting is a chill 20 deg. SAS has the unusual operating procedure of removing blankets from pax for the landing in Business and then whacking the air con down as cold as it goes. I do, however, think that more airlines are turning the temperatures down lower – in the past Swiss was a warm zone and on recent flights to DXB and SIN I have been layered up throughout. I guess we all have different levels of own body padding, unlike Gooner as soon as I hit a hotel room the air con comes off.


    I don’t like air conditioning in a hotel and prefer to open the widow when sleeping. Obviously on a plane you will be in a conditioned atmosphere and my personal pretence is a bit cooler rather than a bit stuffy cabin.

    You’re correct about Swiss and it seems the majority of their passengers preferred a cooler cabin on an overnight flight and it seems they listened as I’ve also noticed the cabin is much more pleasant on the overnighters to/from JNB.


    and Virgin’s amazing response is…..

    Dear Mr

    Thank you for contacting us with regards to your flight to Johannesburg earlier this month.

    I was sorry to read about your recent experience with us.

    We provide individual air vents above each seat so that you can adjust the temperature as you see fit. If you feel cold, we will do what we can to make you more comfortable i.e. provide extra blankets. I can see however that the cabin crew has noted the issues raised by the passengers on-board and therefore I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused.

    As a gesture of goodwill, I’ve issued £40 worth of Virgin Atlantic vouchers. These can be used towards the price of a Virgin Atlantic flight (including all Little Red and codeshare services); a future Virgin Holiday; on-board duty free goods, or added extras such as upgrades, excess baggage or extra legroom seating. The vouchers will arrive in the post shortly.


    did they even read my letter? I think not.


    I am in complete agreement with GoonerLondon. If it’s too hot, nothing to do about it except suffer. If it’s too cold, just put on a blanket! I loathe flights that are too warm. You can warm up so easily but no way to cool off; taking off your clothes, I’m told, is probably illegal. And yes, immediately upon entering the hotel room, turn the thermostat to coldest. Praise God if you can open a window, what a luxury. In California we always have a window open, so environments where the air doesn’t move drive me crazy. I stay at the LHR Crown Plaza every trip because I can open the window, even a few inches. makes a difference after a 10-hour flight.

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