How safe are you from sick passengers?

How close to a sick passenger do you need to be to be infected?

Sick passengers on planes

It’s every traveller’s worst nightmare, seated on a plane a couple of rows away from a sniffling, snotty passenger.

Or worse, still, right next to them. When you look around and see that you’re on a packed plane, what, then, is your defence? How likely are you to be infected by this sick passenger?

A report recently released on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that, perhaps unsurprisingly, if you’re in the same row within a seat or two, one row in front or one behind, your chances of becoming ill are around 80 per cent.

But those a few rows away are pretty safe.

"Passengers should not worry about getting sick from somebody coughing five rows behind," said lead researcher Vicki Stover Hertzberg.

In fact, outside of around one metre, passengers only have a three per cent chance of getting sick.

However, the story changes for sick crew members, who could infect around five passengers per flight.

The report is actually good news for passengers, who can take comfort that aircraft air filters are doing their job.

"This study tells us something we knew, which is that air filters on planes are about 95 per cent effective," said Professor Marc Siegel from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

"You won't get sick simply by being in the airplane.”

You can also improve your chances of staying healthy by washing your hands regularly and keeping them away from your face, as well as the following suggestions:

  • turn your air on
  • stay hydrated
  • use a saline spray, because dry nasal passages are an infection magnet
  • carry a face mask, just in case you end up next to the sick passenger.

How do you stay healthy on the plane?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    24th Mar 2018
    My wife got the worst flu she has ever had on a bus tour in Greece...from a New Zealand couple behind us. I missed out because I had come down with a bad bout before we left home. Needless to say I was 'grateful' for not having this happen whilst on the road.
    There is nothing you can do to stop this. Shots? Yeah right.

    24th Mar 2018
    micky boy before accusing others, ever heard of an incubation period?

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles