Travellers watching their pennies and planning to travel the skyways to faraway destinations should know that cheap seats can sometimes cost more than you know. Sitting with legs tucked on a cramped charter can make passengers vulnerable to a newly diagnosed pathology -- blood clots in the deep veins of the leg. Weeks ago a 20-something British woman died from a clot after flying home from the Olympics in Australia. Planes weren't always so crowded. Once upon a time the distance between seats (called pitch size) used to hover around ?? inches. Now in economy class it's more like 30 to 32 and on cut-rate charters can be as little as 28 inches. Transport Canada does not require airways to warn passengers that they are at risk for clots when sitting in tight places. Nor are carriers obligated to counsel flyers on how they can protect themselves. "I won't fly charter anymore,' JAMES LYON Air Passenger Safety Group (former assistant deputy minister of transportation) "Blood clots happen every day (as a result of flights). Many of the cases are not even known or misdiagnosed two or three days after the flight.' STANLEY MOHLER Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
director of aerospace medicine
"Operators are always looking for ways to stick extra bodies in their vehicles. It may be very well to save a few hundred dollars and have an extra day in Puerto Vallarta, but is it worth risking a blood clot?' HENRY GOW Transport 2000 Canada
"We don't regulate on a deep-vein- thrombosis basis. It is extremely rare. We're not trying to say it cannot occur, but it can occur in any transportation where you are cramped -- a car, a train, a bus, sitting in your office.'PETER COYLES Transport Canada "Buying airline seats is like buying a pair of shoes. If someone is larger, they should buy a business-class seat. You really do not want to buy a pair of shoes that are too uncomfortable.' ANGELA SACLAMACIS Canada 3000 media relationsExperts recommend loose-fitting clothes, 8 ounces of water every hour, no alcohol or caffeine, frequent shifts of position and walks in the aisles, if possible. Foot exercises can help -- rotating ankles clockwise and counterclockwise or clenching toes toward and away from you with the heel resting on the floor. And or herbal remedies that boost circulation like butcher's broom and ginkgo biloba. "A simple thing like cayenne pepper or capsicum, which people can add from a salt shaker to their bland airline food' is also useful, says herbalist/nutritionist DENIS BALAK.