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The primary concern with flying — or traveling by bus or train — is sitting within six feet of an infected person. Remember: Even asymptomatic people can transmit. Your risk of infection directly corresponds to your dose of exposure, which is determined by your duration of time exposed and the amount of virus-contaminated droplets in the air.
A secondary concern is contact with contaminated surfaces. When an infected person contaminates a shared armrest, airport restroom handle, seat tray or other item, the virus can survive for hours though it degrades over time. If you touch that surface and then touch your mouth or nose, you put yourself at risk of infection.

The best way to control exposure is to eliminate the hazard. Since we cannot eliminate the new coronavirus, ask yourself if you can eliminate the trip. Think extra hard if you are older or have preexisting conditions, or if you are going to visit someone in that position.

The experts suggest doing the following, if you do choose to fly:

  • Check out airlines’ policies on seating and boarding.
  • Review Federal and state guidance to get the most recent information from government agencies for advice, current policies and restrictions.
  • Consider booking multiple, shorter flights to decrease the need to use the lavatory.
  • Select a window seat if possible to reduce the number of people you are exposed to during the flight.
  • Try to find an airline that has engineering controls that isolate hazards, including include ventilation systems, on-board barriers and electrostatic disinfectant sprays on flights. “When the ventilation system on planes is operating, planes have a very high ratio of outside fresh air to recirculated air — about 10 times higher than most commercial buildings. Plus, most planes’ ventilation systems have HEPA filters. These are at least 99.9% effective at removing particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter and more efficient at removing both smaller and larger particles,” CNN reports.

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