How to avoid getting sick on a flight during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

When my upgrade doesn’t clear, I almost always book an aisle seat (usually exit-row aisle or bulkhead since those have the most room, which means I can work). However, during flu season and this coronavirus outbreak (keep up with the spread here), I’ve been booking window seats. Why?

According to Dr. Rand McClain—medical director for LCR Health—in a pre-coronavirus Travel + Leisure article on how to avoid getting sick while traveling, “choosing the window seat can actually help you avoid as many germs as possible, walling you off from more passengers than if you were in the middle or aisle.” I’m not sure how much it actually helps, but I don’t mind a window seat if it can reduce my chances of getting sick even a little bit. Any doctors out there want to weigh in? (Please do in the comments!)

The best thing you can do to avoid getting sick on a flight

In the same article, Dr. McClain shares other tips and health notes to use around this time of year, including the medical value of getting good sleep (his #1 tip). But “the simplest trick of all is just washing your hands,” T + L writes. In the words of Dr. McClain, “one simple handwashing if you’ve been exposed can be enough to save you from getting sick.”

Washing your hands won’t simply help you avoid the flu, either. “The best way to avoid the coronavirus,” writes Kyunghee Park for Bloomberg, “is frequent hand washing, according to a medical adviser to the world’s airlines. The virus can’t survive long on seats or armrests, so physical contact with another person carries the greatest risk of infection on a flight, said David Powell, a physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association. Masks and gloves do a better job of spreading bugs than stopping them, he said.”

It’s logical enough: Washing your hands often will help you avoid getting sick on a flight just as it will anywhere else. Right now, especially, that’s a good thing to remember. For more tips on staying healthy this flu and coronavirus season, see this story: 11 Tips for Traveling During Cold and Flu Season.

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