How to avoid catching Coronavirus, flu, or colds on an airplane

Spring break is just around the corner and if you’re thinking of traveling, you may be wondering how to stay well, especially if that travel involves flying.

After all, air travel means being locked into a small space for hours with over a hundred other people coughing and sneezing, while breathing recycled air. Fun, right?

Not really! Especially not when you consider that right now, we’re at the height of the season for colds, flus, and we even get to worry about Coronavirus too.

And, while so far cases of the China virus have been confined to people who either traveled to China or who have been directly exposed to those who have, travel means that you’re no longer in a safe little bubble at home.

Numerous travelers have been quarantined on cruise ships. And planes may be even more of a perfect breeding ground…

The spread of Coronavirus

Statistics tell us that more than 1 in 5 people who travel on planes will suffer from a cold or flu after the flight. That’s because they are in an enclosed area where some germs can stay up to seven days.

Also, let’s face it…

Though experts are saying, thankfully, that Coronavirus isn’t going to be a huge, deadly pandemic we should panic about — they are saying that it’s likely to circulate for years and become part of our seasonal virus medley that land people in the hospital yearly.

That’s why we’ve put together a quick and easy list of the things you can do to stay healthy when traveling by plane this season, whether you’re worried about catching a cold, coming down with the flu, or getting hit by Corona.

Related: How to tell if it’s a cold, flu, or the new Coronavirus

Now some of these you may have heard before, but a few are quite unique to air travel.

But first, it’s important to know how these viruses spread…

Whether cold, flu, or Coronavirus, respiratory viruses make their way from person to person via droplets for the most part — for example, when someone coughs or sneezes around you.

On top of droplet spread, you also need to worry about what they call “fomite spread”. This is when someone who’s sick touches a surface, getting their germs on it, and then you touch it and pick up those germs. Here’s how to avoid that…

1. Wash

And, that fomite spread is where handwashing comes in.

Yup, the number one advice to avoid respiratory viruses, like Coronavirus, is to wash your hands well and regularly. Of course, that includes the fact that you should avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose, and face as much as possible, especially in between washings, since you don’t want to take the virus from a surface and place it where it can easily enter your body.

When you can’t get to water and soap easily, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the meantime can help.

2. Sanitize

Also, be sure to pack plenty of sanitizing wipes and don’t be afraid to use them!

You’ll want to hit the tray table, armrests, seatbelt buckle, window shade, air vent and anything else you might touch. Don’t forget the touchscreen entertainment center.

Related: How to make homemade hand sanitizer that actually works

It’s also important to take the wipes to the restroom with you to open the door, flush the toilet, and even turn on the faucet.

3. Choose your seat

Where you’re seated can also play a role in your chances of getting sick on a flight.

In fact, seats on the aisle and near the restroom are high traffic areas where you’re exposed to more, potentially ill people.

So, whenever possible, choose a window seat away from the lavatories.

4. Never touch the seat pocket

Do you know those sanitizing wipes?

Well, what they won’t work on is the fabric of the seat pocket.

And, it’s where people put everything… from the tissue they just blew their nose into, to stashing their baby’s dirty diaper.

Skip touching it completely and that includes the magazines you’ll find in it!

5. Hydrate

Instead of going for an adult beverage, bring your own water bottle and focus on hydration both before and during your flight.

Hydration helps your body to naturally remove the toxins you’re exposed to while dehydration forces your body to spend more energy on detoxifying rather than supporting your immune system.

6. Decide on a mask

In the wake of Coronavirus, the decision to wear or not wear a mask has become controversial.

Experts say it won’t help you avoid the virus, yet still say that if you’re around someone who has it, you should wear one.

This mixed message is making it difficult for many to decide what the safest option really is when they’re in a situation that leaves them exposed to a high level of germs.

According to Live Science, if you do decide to go with a mask, the key is choosing an N95 respirator mask, which is designed to filter out virus particles.

The bottom line

It’s no secret that upper respiratory viruses are at a peak right now and there are new dangers out there with Coronavirus that you could face in the germ breeding ground of an airplane. But, if you follow the tips above, you’ll have the best chance of staying healthy and avoiding the illnesses that all too often come with travel.


  1. 1 in 5 passengers get sick on every flight – Here are 10 tips to stay healthy — Million Mile Secrets
  2. These are the best ways to avoid catching the coronavirus on airplanes, experts say — CNBC
  3. Specialized respirators are key to stopping spread of coronavirus to medical staff — Live Science
  4. Experts envision two scenarios if the new coronavirus isn’t contained — STAT
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.