How to Avoid Germs, the Flu & Other Viruses on Airplanes!


Germs on airplanes

How to Avoid Viruses on Airplanes

During the first half of November, I made my way around the globe. Starting at my home in Las Vegas I flew LAS-IAD then JFK-MXP-LUX then AMS-LHR-PRG-AMS-HKG-JFK-LAX-LAS. (Don’t ask.)

Anyway somewhere between Amsterdam and Hong Kong I picked up a nasty virus. It hit me first in Hong Kong and got progressively worse as I made my way back home, keeping me in bed for a week after I got here.

I have flown a lot in my life without getting sick, but naturally I am interested in finding out the best ways to avoid germs while on an airplane. In that vein, I found an article with some interesting insights.

The article published by The Advisory Board Company, quotes University of Arizona professor Chuck Gerba. In the article Gerba discusses the main ways to avoid getting the flu on an airplane. While some of it is common sense, I did learn a few things.

Some Ways to Avoid Germs

Germs on airplanes

  • Coach passengers have a 7.7% increased risk of getting sick.
  • It is best to use your own hand sanitizer, even after washing your hands.
  • Aisle seats are the worst since everyone touches the armrest while walking by.
  • You should clean the tray and armrest with an alcohol wipe.
  • Avoid using the restroom if at all possible.
  • There is a much greater risk of getting sick from sitting close to a sick passenger than breathing the filtered air.

This is interesting to me, since I always try to get the aisle seat when flying alone in coach. At 6’2″, it is much more comfortable that way. On longer flights (like the one from AMS-HKG), I can easily get up and walk around and at the very least stretch my legs.

Perhaps my aisle seat strategy backfired on this past trip though. While I don’t know that it was flying which got me sick, being on that many airplanes, probably didn’t help and I did spend way too much time in a coach aisle seat!


Information is power and whether or not I got sick from flying, I was glad to find this article with information about germs on airplanes. Hopefully it will help me be more proactive in order to avoid a repeat of my recent illness.

For more information and additional tips to avoid germs, you can read the original article. Also, let me know in the comments, if you have ever gotten sick on an airplane and what steps you take when flying to avoid germs? Stay healthy my friends!

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