Dear Aviator,

I noticed that a lot of people are scared to travel during the pandemic. Especially on board an airplane in which social distancing is not possible, people are fearing infection by the coronavirus. Are these worries justified? 

In this blog post I will inform you how risky flying is during the pandemic. How high are the chances of getting the virus and which safety measures make it safer.

how risky is flying

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

How risky is flying during the pandemic?

What do you think is more dangerous? – going to the supermarket or flying on an airplane? Spoiler, it is the first!

The chances of getting the coronavirus on an airplane are existent but very minimal.  If this is the case why do people fear to fly at the moment. Let me give you an analogy. You probably recall that a lot of people were, even before the pandemic, afraid to fly in fear of an accident. The chances of having a fatal accident traveling by plane are so little. 1 in 29 Million. By bicycle it is 1 in 340,000. 85 times higher. Yet, I know so many people who are afraid to fly but I don’t know anyone who is afraid to ride the bike (except for me).

Blog post: Tips against the fear of flying

It is identical to current times. People jump easily to the conclusion that air travel must be unsafe because that thought-process has already been made in our brain before. We irrationally associate it with risk, even though an airplane is the one of the safest indoor environments.

how risky is flying
how risky is flying

Airlines do the best they can

Airlines do their best to make flying even safer. Cabin attendants are wearing special protective uniforms. Emirates provides a hygiene travel kit with masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for every passenger. Social distancing procedures are in force during boarding and disembarking (some airlines free up the middle seat) Airlines use enhanced cleaning procedures.  

When it comes to infectious disease, airplanes have an excellent safety record because the air people breathe while flying is some of the most filtered air in travel, according to Joseph Allen, who directs the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

how risky is flying

Cabins: The safest indoor environment

The air in (many) planes is a 50/50 mix of outdoor air and recirculated air. The outdoor air is bled off the engine, conditioned and delivered into the cabin. The other 50% is recirculated air that goes through HEPA filters.

All major commercial jets have ventilation systems with high-quality HEPA filters capable of removing 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne particles with a size as small as 0.3 microns. For comparison, Covid-19 is thought to be between 0.06 to 1.4 microns.

Additionally, authorities have installed body temperature checkpoints at airports and implemented social distancing measurements. To numerous destinations you need a negative PCR-test prior departure which reduces the chance that a passenger infected with Covid-19 being allowed to board. (source: CNN)

how risky is flying
how risky is flying

Tips to lessen the risk

  • Wear the right mask at all times. Make sure it covers mouth AND nose.
  • Reduce the usage of the lavatory. Wait some time after another passenger used it.
  • Disinfect surfaces around your seat you may touch during the flight.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with your fingers.
  • Spread out in the cabin to create more space between fellow passengers.
  • Think about the full travel experiences and not solely about the flight itself.
  • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly especially after using the lavatory.
  • The shorter the flight the less the risk of getting infected.
how risky is flying

The risks of getting infected are higher in security queues or on the way to the airport in the public transportation or when visiting the supermarket before the flight to get some snacks. So think about the full travel experience and not only about the flight itself. 

It is not about confining yourself and stopping doing things you enjoy but to use your capable mind to do research on the information that is just a google search away. Make the best decision for yourself, your mental health and others.

I hope you you find my article: “How risky is flying during the pandemic?” informative. Don’t forget to to like the post post and share it with users. 

Stay safe and healthy travels

Your PilotPatrick

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