Now that we are in a heavy travel season, here are some tips on how to avoid catching a cold or the flu on a plane. A study finds that a lot depends on who else is sitting in your row, as well as the row in front and in back of you. Another critical factor, according to the work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is whether you use the bathroom, what you touch and how carefully you wash your hands.
The bottom line, the safest course is to sit in a window seat and not to leave it for the duration. Researchers were dispatched on flights ranging between 3 and 5 hours long. They concluded that people on the aisles get up the most and tend to be most likely to be near a person spewing infectious droplets of flu or cold virus. They averaged 64 contacts, compared to 58 for passengers in the middle and just 12 for those in window seats. People sitting in the middle of the cabin had more contacts than those sitting in the front or back.
Other tips include letting others board first. That will help keep you out of the crush of people blocking the aisle as they stow their luggage and get seated. Wipe down your tray table, your seat belt and your arm rest, and once you are seated angle the air vent towards you to blow away germs from your face. Stay hydrated, by avoiding too much coffee or alcohol. Nasal spray can also help protect you.