Covid and Travel

Is it really safer to fly than go to the supermarket?

According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) “the risk of contracting COVID-19 during air travel is lower than from an office building, classroom, supermarket, or commuter train.”  

Citing the CDC, WHO, IATA, and the European Center for Disease Control, findings show that the risk for contracting COVID-19 is low on an airplane.  The reasons?

1. Airlines and airports are taking extraordinary steps to combat virus spread including temperature testing,  physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and effective communications with travelers.  Data shows that despite substantial numbers of travelers, the case-rate remains below .3% among all passengers. 

2. Airplanes have advanced HEPA filters making the cabin recycle air as fast or faster than hospital operating rooms.  On top of that, the vast majority of air in the cabin comes from outside.  

3. Air in the cabin does not float throughout the whole cabin.  It cycles around your own vicinity.  In other words, a person in row 30 is not breathing the same air as row 10.  Even with some passengers seated in your vicinity there are multiple levels of protection, including the lack of face to face contact, mandatory face masks for all aboard and your own personal hygiene efforts, as well as those of the airline crew. 

According to this research, despite sitting within 6 feet of a few people on an airplane, due to the efforts of the airlines combined with your own personal protective equipment and hygiene efforts, the fundamentals of travel are as low risk – or lower – as the fundamentals of everyday life, of going to the office or to the store.  


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