FLU AND AIRPLANES
If you travel during flu season, you may have heard someone coughing or sneezing on your flight and figured you’re doomed. Relax: the same precautions you take on land are effective in the air.
It’s true that flu is spread through infected droplets from sneezing, coughing, and talking, but these droplets don’t travel more than 6 feet and don’t get redistributed through cabin air currents. Most people don’t get up at all or only get up once to use the bathroom during a 3-5 hour flight and thus limit their exposure to the rows around them. Moreover, researchers studying plane cleanliness analyzed 230 swab samples from plane surfaces and not a single one contained respiratory viruses.
This means that the best flu prevention while flying is exactly the same as while on the ground: good hand hygiene. Get your flu shot as soon as it’s available, continue to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when traveling, and travel safe knowing your risk of catching the flu on an airplane remains fairly low.