Frequent fliers take note. If you want to avoid getting sick while travelling, your chances are better off if you nab a window seat, according to a new study. Lead researcher Vicki Stover Hertzberg of Emory University in Atlanta advises, “get in that window seat and don’t move.”
While conducting the study, researchers flew around the world, testing air and cabin surfaces for viruses. They also watched how people came into contact with one another, reported the Boston Globe.
The study was limited. Out of 10 flights, only one traveller was observed coughing. Researchers were also unable to find even one of the 18 cold and flu viruses that they tested for. Hertzberg explained that the researchers were either unlucky or happened to be flying on planes without any sick people onboard.
Chicago-based jet manufacturer Boeing Co. funded the research, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using mathematical modelling and computer simulations, researchers concluded that a sick passenger sitting in an aisle seat on the 14th row of a single-aisle airplane would infect about one person out of 150 passengers.
The study focused on a topic that is not well researched, but it’s relatively small scope makes it difficult to calculate the exact the risks passengers have for getting sick on a plane.
People who are at the highest risk of getting sick are those who are closest to the passenger with a cold or the flu—those sitting on the infected person’s left and right as well as the people sitting in the rows immediately in front of and behind him or her.
The study found that 38 percent of passengers never left their seats during a flight, while 38 percent left once, 13 percent left twice, and 11 percent left more than once.
Eighty percent of people sitting in aisle seats moved at least one time during their flights compared to 62 percent of passengers in middle seats and 43 percent in window seats.