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Sneeze on a plane: Where to sit to avoid catching pandemic influenza

Sneeze on a plane: Where to sit to avoid catching pandemic influenza
The window seat of an airplane doesn’t just offer the best views, it also gives you the best chance of avoiding picking up an infection from your fellow travellers. That’s according to a study from the University of Florida.

Planes are considered a hotbed for bacteria with more than a dozen cases of inflight transmission of diseases documented in recent times. Research has also shown that the outbreak of newly emerging diseases such as SARS and pandemic influenza is enabled by air travellers.

Scientists from the University of Florida working on techniques to limit people’s exposure to rogue bacteria or viruses while cooped up in a commercial airliner have found that the best course is to sit in a window seat.

In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the team found that human movement spreads more germs around the cabin than the plane’s recirculated air. The research revealed that people in the window seat get up only half as much as aisle passengers so they are far less exposed. Sick flight attendants also infect more people than passengers.

The study found that the 11 people sitting closest to someone with an infection are the most likely to fall victim to the germs. However on a flight of 150 people with one infectious person on board, on average, only one person picks up the disease.

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