Choose a window seat: Protecting yourself from infection on a plane

When a video of supermodel Naomi Campbell cleaning her airplane seat and wearing a mask and gloves was shared online last year, it made the rounds because her behaviour seemed exaggerated. ("Clean everything you touch," Campbell said in the video.)

Major airlines say they clean their planes to varying degrees between flights, and that plane cleanliness is a priority. But some travelers, including apparently Campbell, prefer the comfort of knowing they've also taken measures of their own to sanitise their airplane space.

Naomi Campbell chose a window seat.Credit:Instagram/Naomi Campbell

"Book a window seat, try not to move during the flight, stay hydrated and keep your hands away from your face," said Vicki Stover Hertzberg, a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and one of the lead researchers on the study. "Be vigilant about your hand hygiene."

Disinfect hard surfaces

When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and non-porous or leather or pleather (artificial leather), you can wipe that down, too. Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.

"It's not bad to wipe down the area around you, but it's worth remembering that the coronavirus is not going to jump off the seat and get into your mouth," Milstone said. "People should be more careful of touching something dirty then putting their hands on their faces."

Disinfecting wipes typically say on the packaging how long a surface needs to stay wet in order for them to work. That time can range from 30 seconds to a few minutes. In order for the wipes to work, you need to follow those time requirements.

Hertzberg added that if there's a touch-screen television, you should use a tissue when touching the screen. Using a paper towel or tissue ensures that there's a barrier between a surface that might have droplets and your hands, which will likely make their way to your face.

"Someone who has been sick and coughing might have touched the door and the faucet, so use wipes in the bathroom, then use paper towels to open the door and to close the faucet, then throw those in the trash on the way out," said Bernard Camins, the medical director for infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System.

The New York Times

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