Whether or not poor quality re-circulated air leads to sickness, being in close proximity to hundreds of other people in a cramped metal tube doesn’t exactly lend itself to good health. Especially during these colder months, bugs are more common than flight delays in July. It’s important to guard yourself against colds and flu while you’re travelling, as there’s nothing worse than reaching your holiday destination and finding yourself too busy sneezing to enjoy it. Here are some tips and tricks on how to keep those bugs at bay.
At over 30,000 feet, humidity is extremely low. This means your nasal passages are going to dry up much more than they do on the ground. The only way to remedy this is to ensure that you’re staying well hydrated above the clouds, or your throat and nose aren’t going to be able to flush away airborne germs. I know it’s annoying to use airplane toilets regularly, but it sure beats getting the flu.
2. Nasal spray
If H20 isn’t doing it for your nose, get some saline solution or nasal spray mist to keep the inside of your nostrils moist. Use at regular intervals as directed.
3. Disinfectant hand wipes
Wipe, wipe, and wipe again. According to the NHS, flu viruses capable of being transferred to hands and causing infections can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours. Don’t assume tray tables are cleaned thoroughly between flights – remember, most low-cost carriers have a turnaround time of about 20 to 25 minutes on the tarmac.
4. Steer clear of the visibly ill
Is your neighbor coughing? Do they have visible bags under their eyes? Are they sniffling? If you answer yes to any of these questions, move (if you can, of course). Don’t risk it. You’re going to be sitting next to them for the entire flight, and flu viruses can survive as air droplets for several hours. Tell the flight attendant you need to sit closer to the bathroom if possible. Or just be honest.
5. DO NOT shut your air vent
Yes, it might be a bit chilly, but that stream is the only source of re-circulated air you’re going to get. Cut it off, and germs are more likely to gather around you rather than blowing away.
6. For extreme caution, wear a face mask
You might look slightly disturbing, but it’s a surefire way to stop airborne germs from coming anywhere near your nose or mouth. And a word of advice to those who are sick already: if you’re getting on an airplane with a cold, it’s courteous to wear a mask yourself to prevent the spread of infection.
7. At least try to get some sleep
If you’re on a long-haul flight, it might be tempting to stay up and watch as many blockbusters as you can. It’s part of what you paid for after all. But lack of sleep can compromise your immune system, meaning that you’re far more susceptible to viruses. Add-on tip: a neck pillow and eye mask make a world of difference.
8. Keep that blanket away from the face
There’s no confirmation of this fact, but it’s widely suspected that airlines re-use those plastic-sealed blankets they give you. Personally, I would err on the side of caution and keep that thing as far from my face as possible. BYO blanket is my personal choice.
9. BYO food
You can actually bring your own food onto most flights; so don’t be afraid to pack a meal instead of eating what the airline serves. Airplane food isn’t exactly the most sanitary or the most nutritious. Cook yourself some pasta or make a nice sandwich and watch your fellow passengers’ envious eyes as they prod their lukewarm lasagna.
10. Absolutely do not stay up all night before flying
I hate to sound like a broken record, but sleep is important. I’ve known many people who think it’s a great idea to “skip” a night of sleep before flying, the idea being that you’ll be so tired when you get on the plane that sleep will come within minutes. You’ll wake up and find yourself in Australia. For some, this can work, but if you’re anything like me, it will only result in being even more uncomfortable and stressed the entire journey. And as I said before, no sleep equals a compromised immune system, so your body is far less likely to fight off those invisible germs floating around your head.
Follow these simple steps next time you fly to ensure you’re rested, healthy and ready for anything when you land!
Had a recent flight delay, flight cancellation or overbooking? You could be entitled to up to €600. Check your eligibility here.