5 steps to help you avoid catching the flu on an airplane

If you are planning to travel in the coming weeks or months, you may be concerned about the potential risk of catching the flu on a plane. After all, airplanes have a reputation for being “vile canisters of germs.”

Of course, if you already have the flu and have to travel by air, it’s nice to wear a face mask at the airport and on the flight to limit the germs you are spreading. However, if you are traveling flu-free, listed below are five steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting sick.

1. Avoid Unnecessary Interactions

The fewer interactions you have with other people while in transit, the less likely you are to catch their germs. So, while waiting to board your flight, avoid standing in tight or crowded lines if it can be avoided. You’re more likely to be on the receiving end of a sick person’s cough or sneeze by standing so closely.

Also, opt for a window seat on your flight if you have the option, since it is less likely to be grabbed or touched by a sick person walking down the aisle.

crowded airport photo
Getty Images | Andrew Burton

2. Stay Hydrated

Some of your body’s best defenses against viruses are the mucous membranes in your nose and mouth. However, the low humidity of air travel can dry them out, making them less effective at filtering the air you breathe. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry a nasal spray with you on flights and drink plenty of water or hot tea while on board to stay hydrated and maximize your body’s natural defense capabilities.

3. Wipe Down Your Seating Area

While airplane bathrooms are required to be cleaned each day, tray tables and arm rests rarely get that kind of attention, which makes them among the dirtiest places on an airplane. So, after you’re seated, be sure to wipe down your seat area with an antibacterial wipe in order to limit the number of germs left over from the seat’s previous occupants. It’s also a good idea to give the call buttons a quick swipe as well.

airplane tray table photo
Flickr | Mr Michael Phams

4. Bring Your Own Pillow And Blanket

Rather than counting on airline pillows and blankets to be freshly laundered, be sure to pack your own blanket and pillow for any flight. If getting cozy on a plane is important to you, it’s worth using up some of your carry-on allowance in order to stay germ-free. Just be sure to wash them after your flight if you have the option!

5. Turn On The Overhead Air Vent

If your seatmate suddenly starts coughing or sneezing mid-flight, and there’s no possibility of moving to a new seat on the plane, the next best course of action would be to turn on your overhead air vent. Air vents have been shown to help whisk those germs away from you, so it’s probably a good idea to turn them on even if the people next to you appear flu-free.

airplane vent photo
Flickr | stevendamron

Do you follow any other steps to stay healthy while traveling?