How to Stay Healthy on a Plane: What You Need to Know

May 4, 2021

8 Useful Tips for How to Stay Healthy on a Plane

It is no secret traveling by plane can be a stressful experience — from packing and keeping up with flight times to dealing with long security lines. In the midst of it all, are travelers making sure they know how to stay healthy on a plane?

While the CDC has stated that the risk of getting sick on a plane is lower than you’d think, you are still in close proximity with other passengers, in enclosed spaces, and in direct contact with public objects, so risks can’t be completely ignored.

With around 2.9 million passengers flying in and out of the U.S. on an average day, and strict measures in place for a safe return to travel after the pandemic, it is important for travelers to put their health first.

With a little preparation — and a few key carry-on items — those traveling by plane can help protect themselves and loved ones from harmful germs. This article breaks down what travelers need to know to help them stay healthy during their next flight.

1. Pick the Window Seat

When it comes to air travel, there is a high likelihood that travelers will end up sitting next to or near other passengers, especially on a packed flight. To help protect yourself from illness on a plane, try reserving a window seat.

One study indicates sick individuals have about an 80% chance of infecting everyone sitting in the same row on their side of the aisle. The same applies to the rows directly in front and behind the sick passenger.

While the chances for infection are higher if there is a sick person in the same row, the window seat can give passengers a bit more protection. Passengers sitting near a window are less likely to get up and move around the plane, lowering their risk of exposure. They may also have less contact with flight attendants and other passengers who walk up and down the aisle, thereby lowering the possibility of collecting airplane germs.

A recent CDC study also shares that rows with a vacant middle seat and reduced aircraft occupancy could reduce the risk of exposure to infection-causing germs.

2. Plan Ahead and Pack Smart

The key to packing smart is proper planning. To avoid forgetting important hygiene items, create a list that can help you stay healthy on the plane and while at the airport.

These could include:

  • Airplane immune system boost supplements, like Vitamin C
  • Disinfectant wipes or spray for surfaces
  • Hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol)
  • A face mask that covers the nose and mouth for airports and airlines that require them
  • Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic, which is TSA compliant

It is a good idea to keep all these items handy and use them while traveling for the entirety of the trip. Keep in mind that in addition to the flight, it’s possible to be surrounded by people while sitting in a cab or Uber to and from the airport, waiting at the terminal or in line at security, boarding, and deplaning.

3. Sanitize Your Nose

Did you know individuals touch their noses an average of 100 times a day? Every time they do, they risk contaminating themselves and spreading germs from their hands and nose to other surfaces.

Sanitizing the nose interrupts this cycle of contamination between the hands and nose. Because the nose is a major entry point for germs into the body, and a primary reservoir for germs to spread, it is important to address this risk. Sanitizing the nose, even while wearing a mask, is an added layer of protection to help defend against germs when traveling.

Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic is a clinically proven solution that is applied to the nose topically with a swab. The product is moisturizing, pleasant to use and kills 99.99% of germs. Users can apply it before they fly and after they have arrived at their destination. A Nozin® application has a 12-hour persistence for those long travel days and is easy to reapply when on the go. Another term for sanitizing the nose is nasal decolonization, an important infection prevention procedure used in hospitals every day.

Thinking about flying soon? Be prepared by purchasing Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® as a travel essential.

4. Wash Your Hands Regularly

According to the CDC, handwashing is one of the best ways for travelers to protect themselves from getting sick on a plane.

Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help protect against germs. Travelers should make sure they are washing their hands regularly before and after:

  • Touching their eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Touching their mask
  • Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as belt buckles, overhead compartment lids, bathroom door handles, trays, TV screens, arm rests, etc.

Travelers should wash their hands before getting onto a plane, as they most likely have been in contact with several public objects. For example, travelers may take public transport to get to the airport, where they touch Uber or cab door handles. They might also touch the trays in security and sit at public terminals. All of these locations tend to be high-contact areas.

After a plane ride, it is equally important to head to a restroom and practice handwashing. Travelers most likely have touched overhead compartments, plane seats, buttons on the plane or while leaving the airport, handrails, escalators, and stairs.

Nail cleaning is another way to prevent the buildup of bacteria and dirt on your hands, so try to keep your nails short and/or practice cleaning them regularly.

Finally, if travelers are unable to find a restroom, they may use hand sanitizer to protect themselves against airplane germs.

5. Clean Surfaces and Objects

All germs are abundant and microscopic in nature and may lead to infection if exposed during travel. They often spread through direct contact with surfaces, which is why it is important to clean public surfaces and objects often.

Throughout the air travel experience, passengers should use disinfectant wipes or spray to clean the seats at the terminal while waiting for the plane. Once on board, passengers should disinfect the seat, belt buckle, tray table, arm rests, and other items travelers may touch to avoid exposure to germs.

If moving about the plane, travelers should be mindful to clean surfaces as best as possible before they come into contact with them, including door handles and overhead compartment covers.

6. Keep the Air Vent On

Those that get cold easily may want to bring a blanket or sweater next time they fly. According to infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Gandreau, keeping the ventilation on above a seat may help passengers stay healthy on a plane.

By letting their air vent blow directly onto them, passengers can create an air barrier around their seat that blocks airborne particles that cause infection, forcing them to hit the ground faster and preventing possible illness.

7. Avoid the Plane’s Bathroom If Possible

Unless passengers absolutely have to go, try to avoid the plane’s bathroom altogether. Research indicates there are significant germs in the restroom, especially on sinks, flush handles, door handles, and toilet seats.

If travelers do decide to go, they should be sure to sanitize and use tissues when touching these objects and wash their hands thoroughly after use.

8. Stay Hydrated

The average air humidity on a plane is about 15%, a significant difference from the 30-60% humidity people are used to on land. This low humidity can dry out the mucous membranes of one’s airways and nose. The dryness makes us more vulnerable to germs that may cause infection.

Drinking plenty of water will help keep travelers hydrated and is one of the keys to staying healthy on a plane.

Good Prep Leads to Safer Travels

With so many travelers flying in and out of airports each day, exposure to infection-causing germs is a likelihood that’s best to prepare for.

Following these tips can give travelers the proper tools to help protect themselves from infection while flying. While some of these tips may seem common, sanitizing the nose is often a new concept to those outside of the healthcare field. However, it’s a critical component to a good hygiene routine – think hand sanitizer for your nose®. Learn more and get started with Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic.

Health Professionals:
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