Want to avoid the flu on a plane? Here’s how

Based on a little research on the risks of catching a cold or flu during air travel, some experts believed that sitting in a window seat would keep a passenger away from infectious people who may be on the aisle or moving around. The new study, published Monday, came to the same conclusion.

‘Get a window seat, and don’t leave it until the flight is over’. That’s what some experts have been saying for years, and it’s perhaps the best advice coming out of a new attempt to determine the risks of catching germs on an airplane.

The study was ambitious: squads of researchers jetted around the US to test cabin surfaces and air for viruses and to observe how people came into contact with each other.

But it also had shortcomings. In a total of 10 flights, they observed only one person coughing. And though the experiment was done during a flu season five years ago, they didn’t find even one of 18 cold and flu viruses they tested for. It’s possible that the researchers were unlucky, in that they were on planes that happened to not have sick people on them, Hertzberg said.

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The new study was initiated and funded by Boeing Co.

The Chicago-based jet manufacturer also recruited one of the researchers, Georgia Tech’s Howard Weiss, and had input in the writing of the results.¬†‘But there was no particular pressure to change stuff or orient it one way or the other,’ Hertzberg said. The article was released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers did some mathematical modeling and computer simulations to determine how likely people were to come close to a hypothetical infectious passenger sitting in an aisle seat on the 14th row of a single-aisle airplane. They concluded that on average, only one person on a flight of about 150 passengers would be infected.

Findings:

  • About 38 percent of passengers never left their seat, 38 percent left once, 13 percent left twice, and 11 percent left more than twice.
  • Not surprisingly, a lot of the people getting up had an aisle seat. About 80 percent of people sitting on the aisle moved at least once during their flights, compared with 62 percent in middle seats and 43 percent in window seats.
  • The 11 people sitting closest to a person with a cold or flu are at the highest risk. That included two people sitting to their left, the two to their right, and people in the row immediately in front of them and those in the row behind.
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A lot of frequent fliers will be interested in the study’s results, said Edward Pizzarello, an investor in a Washington-area venture-capital firm who also writes a travel blog.

‘It’s absolutely a fear I hear from people all the time. They just believe that they’re going to get sick from going on an airplane, or they got sick from being on an airplane,’ he said.

 

Source Credit: Daily Mail

 

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