GETTING sick on a plane is extremely common, due to the volume of people as well as the recycled air in the cabin.

However, you can reduce your chances of catching a bug in a number of ways, such as where you sit – with the window seat being the best option.

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 Choosing a window seat could stop you getting sick

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Choosing a window seat could stop you getting sickCredit: Getty – Contributor

A study in 2018, funded by Boeing, found you are 80 per cent likely to catch a virus from a passengers if sitting near them.

The study, which saw 10 scientists analyse five cross-country flights during flu season, found that sitting in the same row, or in the row in front or behind someone who is sick, are most likely going to also fall sick.

If they are sat in the aisle seat, then they could also infect everyone else in the aisle seats too.

They were more likely to come into contact with passengers moving about the cabin to use the lavatory, or with the airline’s crew members — an average of 64 contacts, versus the window seat’s 12.

Thankfully there are ways to reduce your chances of getting ill, including where you sit as well as using the air vent on a plane.

 An aisle seat exposes you to more passengers, increasing your risk of infection

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An aisle seat exposes you to more passengers, increasing your risk of infectionCredit: Getty – Contributor

Sitting in the window seat is the best option, as it minimises your risk of crossing other passengers who are sick.

The lead author of the study Vicki Stover Hertzberg advises: “Get in that window seat and don’t move.”

By staying in the seat, it also means avoiding contact with other travellers when you get up to use the bathroom or stretch.

The study found that only 43 percent of those seated in the window got up, as opposed to 80 percent of those in the aisle.

Of course during long flights it is still advised to try and get up and stretch, to avoid DVT.

 Getting sick from other passengers is likely if sitting near them

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Getting sick from other passengers is likely if sitting near themCredit: Alamy

There is another way to avoid getting sick if you know you are near someone with an illness – and that is always having the air vent on.

Dr. Mark Gendreau — the medical director and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center-Peabody, and an expert on the spread of infectious diseases previously told Travel + Leisure: “The flow pattern of air on an aircraft doesn’t necessarily work front to back, or back to front – it’s actually compartmentalised into various sections on the aircraft.

“As a rule of thumb, the air that you’re typically breathing and exposed to is usually anywhere from two to five rows surrounding your seat.”

Keeping a constant flow of fresh air directed at your face and body keeps the lingering germs in the air away from you.


QU-EASY PEASY How to avoid travel sickness on planes – including what to drink, where to sit and what to wear


If you are the sick person, then there are also ways you can prevent your illness from spreading to other people.

Constantly washing your hands can prevent the infection being passed on, while coughing away and to the floor will also work.

Keeping the air vent on if sick will also minimise transmission.

Bizarre moment passenger uses plane air vents to dry his shoes during a flight

Last year, 47 passengers were kicked off a flight because they were sick, following gastroenteritis outbreak fears.

The spread of diseases on flights has been debated in recent weeks due to the spread of coronavirus.

One man even suggested wearing a plastic tent on a flight to avoid catching it.

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