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The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Rising Star

Pretty good article here from CNN about the realities of catching COVID-19 on an airplane.

 

Excerpt: 

 

But according to some experts who point to the very few documented cases of in-flight transmission, the chances of catching Covid-19 while on board a flight are actually relatively slim.
 
Fear of flying during the pandemic has drastically reduced global air traffic, which has also been restricted due to border closures. If new scientific claims are borne out, the perceived heightened risk of boarding an airplane could be unfounded.

 

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/odds-catching-covid-19-flight-wellness-scn/index.html

 

--Jessica

8 REPLIES 8
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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Top Contributor

That's a great article.

 

The biggest take-away for me is that current mitigation actions have a big factor is reducing spread -- including masks, temp screening (which we don't actually do for domestic flights), cleaning, and -- of course, empty middle seats. This is all in addition to reduced passenger load.

 

Unfortunately, those efforts won't be continued forever. Some carriers have stopped blocking middles already. Personally, I'm hoping Southwest extends empty middles past their current stated October 31 date.

 

 

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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Active Member

I'm glad to hear of this.  My only disappointment for SWA, all airlines, and airports, nobody does a temperature scan.  I'm sure that somebody who has flu symptoms, but is dire to get to their destination, is still going to try and do it by air if they can.  Maybe it's just me, but it would give me one more level of security to continue to keep flying. 

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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Top Contributor

I'm mixed on it @SWFlyer007 - like you say the temperature scan would catch someone trying to cheat. Or maybe in some cases they might not realize they had a fever but that seems less likely.

 

An even better option for the long-term would be fast result testing. 

 

But the HVAC on airplanes is pretty good for this purpose with lots of OA and filtration, and many separate zones throughout the cabin (air doesn't come in at the bulkhead and go all the way to the rear lavatories - there are multiple exhaust points along the way). 

 

The key measures seem to be disinfecting the lavatories and passengers being cautious there and with other touchpoints, and then the masks combined with empty middle seats. I'm in the industry, and I did a simple test myself wearing a mask and try to blow out a candle and then see how easy it is to blow it out without a mask - that's really the story to me is the airflow pattern. The mask doesn't have to be a filter for it to be effective, it just needs to cut the radius down from 6' to 2' - then the empty middle is sufficient as long as no transmission takes place from touching things.

 

I've always been a happy Southwest customer once I discovered no change fees - empty middle seats is also very important to me right now.

 

On the other hand if I'm traveling with family we'll block up a row of three ourselves anyway, so we'll all be somewhat protected then as well. Traveling solo for work would be less sure of that. I'm absolutely wiling to bend schedules to get on an emptier route though.

 

Really what I'm less sure about is the airport and the traveling to and from the destination airport. Where I normally would take public transit or shared ride I might rent a car now.

 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Active Member

Great point!  Noted

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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Top Contributor

@SWFlyer007 wrote:

I'm glad to hear of this.  My only disappointment for SWA, all airlines, and airports, nobody does a temperature scan.  I'm sure that somebody who has flu symptoms, but is dire to get to their destination, is still going to try and do it by air if they can.  Maybe it's just me, but it would give me one more level of security to continue to keep flying. 


I know that Frontier does temperature checks however people can try to cheat the temperature check by taking a fever reducer or even have an ice pack on their forehead up until boarding and boom you could pass. Another thing is some of the thermometers places are using are bad one example walked in to a movie theatre they checked my temperature I asked what it was and the girl said 94.2 umm that's not possible she said maybe you had the AC blowing really cold in the car I walked in on the way out she checked it again because I was curious after that crazy reading on the way in and that time she said 93.8 so we both agreed the owner needs to upgrade the thermometers. So this is one example of why I don't think it will make a crazy amount of difference unless they have some high tech thermometers. the one frontier used on my flight back in June malfunctioned when checking temperatures so you malfunction on the wrong person and we'll you could have let the sick traveler onboard. 

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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Top Contributor

These get less accurate as they are further away - was the movie theater check performed from too far away?

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Active Member

Great point, NOTED!

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Re: The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say (CNN)

Top Contributor

I mean definitely keep doing the temperature checks @SWFlyer007 - it's a low overhead option to stop a few obvious cases from boarding. (Or watching a movie, or dining, etc.)

 

But if you do see someone getting readings in the low 90's, they probably have the sensor too far from the subject's forehead. It reads a cone from the end - its a myth that the red dot coming out the end is the place that the reading comes from - actually the sensor sees an expanding cone from the end so if you were really close to the person it would be reading an area the size of a coin, but if you were two feet away it would be reading the average temperature of an area the size of a dinner plate. 

 

Anyway - tell them to get closer, they aren't doing any good by sampling the temperature of your whole head and the room behind you.

 

Hopefully we'll keep looking at more advanced options for faster testing though. Maybe they could do the same for flu. A lot of people toss it around as the "do nothing" comparison - after seeing some of the comparisons it affects quite a few people too and I hadn't realized how many deaths, besides knocking people out of commission for days. 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.