In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control warns against nonessential travel.
However, the CDC says “most viruses and germs do not spread easily on flights. Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.”
Moreover, there are many ways through which you can minimize the risk of catching an infection on flights. If a person washes hands frequently, wipes the tray table, wears a mask and having the vent above the persons seat blow air down can help reduce the risk of getting the infection.
But the challenge is to maintain social distancing outside the planes. In lines at the airport, and eating at a shared table in a terminal restaurant. All these things contribute to increasing the chances of getting the virus.
However, people are wondering if it is safe to travel on a plane or not.
As the air circulates in the airplane the experts say planes are essentially as safe as hospitals.
It is important to check each state’s health and travel advisories before traveling. Also the CDC travel recommendations by country.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) states on its website that “most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.”
Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard University mentioned that the air on the planes is “clean and highly filtered.”
In addition, he also studied airplane cabin air quality for over a decade. He said, “We have to approach this not just from a medical side, but also understanding the engineering side. When you take a step back and look at how the airplane functions, you quickly see that the airplane is getting a lot of fresh air.”
The air on planes comes through the engine from outside. It is a 50-50 mix of fresh and recirculated air. The recirculated air goes through a HEPA filter. Hospitals are using it as it removes 99.97% germs of all airborne particles. Such as germs and viruses.
The airplanes get 10-12 full air changes per hour, which is on par with what the CDC recommends for airborne infection isolation rooms in hospitals.
“When an infectious passenger coughs or sneezes, the large droplets are going to be floating around the cabin and hopefully are wiped up by the HEPA filter,” said Howard Weiss, a biomathematician and professor in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech and an adjunct professor of biology and public health at Emory University.
Similarly, the International Air Transport Association says, “the risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is typically lower than in a shopping center or office environment.”
According to CDC’s revised guidance the coronavirus “does not spread easily” from contaminated surfaces.
The main concern is that travelers will catch the infection if they do not maintain enough distance from others.
Up till now, we have not heard if anyone got infected while traveling. If people follow all the requirements and restrictions given by the airlines and CDC then they can reduce the chances of getting the virus in flights.
Travelers must abide will all the new policies that the airlines are giving them for safe traveling.