How To Not Get Sick On An Airplane


I get sick every time I go home for Christmas, and while it isn’t helped by lack of sleep and alcohol abuse, I’m pretty sure 75% of it is the 3-5 hours I spend on what is, essentially, a flying petri dish.

So thanks to The Wall Street Journal for these tips (which I’ve summarized):

  • Hydrate (drink water, use saline spray).
  • Clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Use disinfecting wipes to clean off tray tables before using
  • Avoid seat-back pockets.
  • Open your air vent, and aim it so it passes just in front of your face. Filtered airplane air can help direct airborne contagions away from you.
  • Stay the hell away from people who look sick

The air vent thing was new to me! Now I’m off to get disinfecting wipes and some saline spray.

Update: thanks to @aweissman for this suggestion: “i do this and it almost always works: basically OD on Vitamin C before you get on the plane – right before. Use EmergenC or a similar product, drink it all up while waiting.”

See also: Daniel Pink’s travel tips. Episode #1 is about avoiding illness. I like his ointment-in-the-nose trick. And don’t forget (environ-)mental health tactics: earplugs, headphones, eye mask!

How To Not Get Sick On An Airplane