Avoid CoronaVirus virus on a plane
Where is the safest place to sit on a plane to avoid catching coronavirus? The safest place to sit on a plane to avoid catching coronavirus from an infected passenger is next to the window, according to medical experts.
- Sitting in a window seat reduces the number of encounters you have on a plane
- Researchers studied how people interact and when they get up during a flight
- The biggest threat to public health is if the infected person is a member of crew
The world is gripped by a new coronavirus that started in China and has since moved into nearly 15 other countries, including the United States. Meanwhile, it is also flu season, which so far has caused 8,200 deaths in the U.S. Major airports have begun screening passengers for the coronavirus, and more than a half dozen airlines have started cutting their flights to mainland China. But those measures may not provide much solace to anyone who has to board a flight.
After all, you can avoid the person who is sneezing in line at Cinnabon, but you’re more or less left to fate once you’ve strapped on that seatbelt inside a flying metal canister.
How do respiratory illnesses spread in general?
If you’ve ever sneezed into your arm or steered clear of an office colleague with a hacking cough, you already know the basics of how respiratory illnesses spread.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they shed droplets of saliva, mucus, or other bodily fluids. If any of those droplets fall on you—or if you touch them and then, say, touch your face—you can become infected as well.
This activity helps pinpoint the safest places to sit. The passengers who were least likely to get up were in window seats: only 43 percent moved around as opposed to 80 percent of people seated on the aisle.
Accordingly, window seat passengers had far fewer close encounters than people in other seats, averaging 12 contacts compared to the 58 and 64 respective contacts for passengers in middle and aisle seats.
Choosing a window seat and staying put clearly lowers your likelihood of coming into contact with an infectious disease. But, as you can see in the accompanying graphic, the team’s model shows that passengers in middle and aisle seats—even those that are within the WHO’s two-seat range—have a fairly low probability of getting infected.