About Flying on Airplanes and the Coronavirus…

“It’s less risky than you may think, especially if you take some basic precautions.”

Our guests at the Cayuga Collection Hotels have told us that once they are staying with us, they feel very comfortable and don’t even remember the situation with the Coronavirus, but the part of getting to our hotels on a plane is what had them concerned.  We did some investigations about flying and the precautions recommended by experts on this topic. 

“The risk of catching any illness on a flight is generally quite low,” says Perry Flint, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association, which represents some 290 airlines worldwide. “Of course, there’s a chance of catching something any place people congregate, but less so on a plane, because the air is filtered and refreshed constantly, with systems similar to what you’d find in a hospital operating room.”   

What really surprised us is that the air on airplanes is better than its reputation.  The Center for Disease Control says that transmission of the virus occurs by droplets from coughing or sneezing or direct contact.  Air on airplanes is filtered through HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters which should trap any droplets. Another factor that works in your favor is that the air on planes is extremely dry, which is not conducive to spreading the virus.

We reviewed several articles on this topic published by National Geographic, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider among others.  This is what we recommend our guests to do when flying to Costa Rica, Panama or Nicaragua: 

  1. Wash your hands.  I feel we are kind of getting sick and tired of this message.  It also sounds so simple, but it really seems to be the thing that really works. Make sure you use soap and warm water and take 20 seconds to finish the job (one flight-attendant trick is timing it by singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice).
  2. Don’t touch your face with your hands. It is hard, we know. But try to be very conscious of this.
  3. Use Alcohol Gel to disinfect your hands.  This also seems quite simple but very effective as well.
  4. You have probably read about the fact that airline tray tables can be very dirty.  One recommendation is to bring your own chlorine wipes and disinfect the tray table, the touch screen, and the armrests. 
  5. There is conflicting information out there about masks.  But if you chose to use one the model that is called an “industrial-grade N95 mask” seems to be getting the best reviews. 
  6. Make sure you are well-rested, eat well, drink lots of water and control your alcohol intake so that your immune system is in tip-top shape.  Also, make sure you stay relaxed as stress also brings down our immune system. 
  7. An additional – more costly – measure is to buy the airline seat next to you.

Above all, travel experts say that based on what we know now, there’s no need to avoid flying. Dr. Varula says he’s booked a spring vacation to Grenada and has every intention of going. Unless your destination is one of the few on the Centers for Disease Control’s watch list, he says, “There’s no point in staying home.

If you have questions regarding a possible visit to our hotels and lodges, feel free to contact us at hans@cayugaonline.com.

Sources reviewed and quoted: 





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Hans Pfister

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