Family Healthcast: Should we be flying yet?

Family Healthcast

(WSYR-TV) — More people are flying right now than at any time since the pandemic began. Airlines say there are still many empty seats, more than they would like. But the question is, should we be flying?

The fact is that there have been very few documented cases of in-flight transmission of COVID-19.

Some experts say that the chances of catching the virus while on board a flight are actually relatively slim.

One reason is that the air in modern aircraft cabins is replaced with new fresh air every two to three minutes and most planes are fitted with air filters designed to trap 99% of particles.

That combined with mandatory face masks for passengers and crew, as well as more intensive cabin cleaning and limited movement in the cabin during flight.

A statistics professor at MIT tried to quantify the odds of becoming infected with the virus while on board a two hour flight within the U.S. on planes with three seats on either side of the aisle.

Assuming everyone is wearing a mask, the risk of catching the virus on a full flight is just one in 4,300. Those odds fall to one in 7,700 if the middle seat is vacant.

The professor is a strong supporter of the middle seats empty policy, which has been adopted by Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

He also said the window seat is generally a little safer than the aisle seat because you come into contact with fewer people.

However, the researcher recommends that travelers take things one step further by wearing a shield. If covers the eyes, nose and mouth and lessens the risk of others infecting you.

If the researcher were flying now, he would certainly wear a shield.


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