Here's a confession: I have a problem with changes in air pressure. I didn't know this until my first flight to New York when I was 16. I was told that chewing gum would help your ears pop but I had no idea that I would be one of the other people who felt ear-shattering pain on landing. Are you one of these people? If so, read on: I found out how to solve it!
So, on the way up in an airplane my ears pop a bit to adjust to the change in air pressure so I only notice the pain when I come down. It's really bad if we come down quickly instead of slowly to allow myself to adjust to the change in air pressure. I have tried everything from manually trying to pop my ears to trying to yawn. I have pressed on my head behind my ears to dull the pain and I have even tried pressing a warm facecloth to my ears. I must look awfully strange to other passengers on a plane.
Well, I had to deal with this. I fly at least twice a year so that is at least four flights per year for the past 10 years. It took that long before one of my co-workers (who also snorkels) told me of a diving trick for adjusting to pressure in the water: plug your nose with your fingers and blow slightly to pop your ears as you go down. Not once, but many times, say every 2 minutes until you are at the bottom. Decompress like this all the way to the top as well.
BRILLIANT! So, on the way down, I am the passenger holding my nose and blowing (quietly) to pop my ears every few minutes as we come down. Don't mind me, that is if you notice that I do this. I am no longer in any pain when I fly! It sounds strange but it really does work.
So, are you one of these people? If so, here is a trick that really does work. Who cares if you look strange doing it. Actually, after a few years, I've gotten pretty discrete about it. The person next to me doesn't even know what I am doing.