Health-Conscious Fliers Might Want a Window Seat

Study suggests it's the safest pick to avoid catching germs from fellow travelers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 20, 2018 7:58 AM CDT
   (Getty/Csondy)

(Newser) – Worried about catching a cold or the flu on an airplane? 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, per the AP. It turns out there's been 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. For somebody who doesn't want to get sick, "get in that window seat and don't move," says the study's lead researcher, Vicki Stover Hertzberg of Emory University in Atlanta.

The study, funded by Boeing, 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. The article was released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 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.


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