One of the advantages of having priority privileges at an airport is that you can be among some of the first people to board the plane.
Think about it: no waiting for people to lift their heavy carry-ons into the overhead compartments or standing there while people to slowly find their seats.
Basically, this is what we imagine priority boarding is like:
But experts are warning travellers that priority boarding could be bad for your health and increase the likelihood of spreading infectious diseases.
According to The Independent, researchers from Arizona State University say that this type of boarding, in which first-class passengers are the first to get on the plane, followed by subsequent zones, could put you at risk of catching an illness.
The team used a mathematical model to test different types of boarding scenarios, trying to find out how a disease, such as Ebola, would spread if just one person on board was sick.
They found that when passengers are boarded by zones, this increases the likelihood of a passenger being exposed to an infected person.
The example used by The Independent is if an infected person is seated in row 18C, they would have to travel past 18 rows of passengers, and this would increase the likelihood that the infected person's disease or illness would spread to these passengers, and would continue spreading as more passengers fill the plane.
And of course, if someone in first class is sick, everyone has to pass by them.
To avoid spreading diseases and other illnesses, researches suggest that airlines adopt a two-zone boarding process, in which half the passengers are seated from the front of the plane, and half from the back. The researchers found that passenger contact would be lowered by 27 per cent if this process were adopted.
It's important to note that if you are going to pick up a pathogen on an intercontinental flight, it will probably be on your seat or another surface, Dr. Mark Gendreau, who specializes in aviation medicine at Lahey Medical Center in Peabody, Mass., told NPR in 2014.
"When you look at most infectious diseases, the overwhelming majority are transmitted when you touch a contaminated surface," he said. "You grab the door knob of the airplane bathroom, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth."
When you look at most infectious diseases, the overwhelming majority are transmitted when you touch a contaminated surface.
"But we're not all doomed to get sick after a plane flight. You can change behaviours when you're travelling and substantially reduce the risk of catching anything."
Gendreau recommends bringing a sanitizing gel with 60 per cent alcohol with you on the plane and to use it "before you eat or drink."
We're not all doomed to get sick after a plane flight. You can change behaviours when you're travelling and substantially reduce the risk of catching anything.
And don't count on airplane soap to scrub off all those germs — Gendreau recommends using sanitizer after you wash your hands in the bathroom sink because the water itself has a "dirty track record."
Other ways to help keep you healthy while travelling by plane include wiping down your table tray before you use it, keeping your hands to yourself, getting lots of rest before you board, drinking lots of water, and wearing a warm sweater to ward off that airplane chill.
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