Include wellness in your air travel plans

Have you ever been sick after a business trip?

It happens to many travelers. You may be taking off for a 3-hour flight and hear a cough from several rows back. A few minutes later, the same person coughs again. It seems certain that millions of those germs will make their way through the aircraft, so you make a mental note to meticulously wash your hands and gargle over the next several days.

While hand-washing and gargling are recommended wellness practices, a passenger is no more likely to get sick on or after air travel that they would after attending a local conference, or even if they had remained in the office.

Where to find a virus

Population and proximity increase the chance of acquiring a virus. That’s something to think about as you enter a conference hall, boardroom, hotel lobby, or restaurant. As consultants, we do that often!

We also board aircraft quite often. Fortunately, viruses are less likely to be transmitted through the cabin air, where filters remove most of the germs and air is exchanged more often than in offices and other public spaces.

Unless seated within two rows of coughing, sneezing, and sniffling, travelers will face more malevolent microbes at the ticket counter or on the jetway. A recent study found the greatest amount of germ contamination on the plastic trays used in airport security[1]. It may be wise to include hand sanitizer as one of the small bottles of toiletries to bring on board.

Four simple strategies

As we check in for a flight, we can take further precautions to boost wellness.[2]

    • Choose a window seat

      Enjoy the high-altitude perspective, and receive the greatest benefit from the filtered air that circulates from the top of the cabin to vents below the window.

    • Mop-up the microbes

      Break out the hand sanitizer and a tissue or pack disinfectant wipes. Wipe down any flat surfaces within reach, especially tray tables, arm rests and seat belt buckles.

    • Get moving

      As flight duration and logistics allow, take a stretch break in or out of your seat. Walk up and down the aisle if logistics allow. If a cart or other passengers are in that space, you can always wiggle your toes and flex your calf muscles to help circulation.

    • Hydrate

      An airplane’s humidity level is low, so your body will benefit from extra water, caffeine-free and non-alcoholic beverages.

Alexa Stone
LEED AP, Sustainable Facility Professional, Envision Sustainability Professional - - Alexa has more than 25 years of experience in sustainable and Smart Cities development. Her strategic planning work has served local, state, and federal government, higher education, and private industry. Alexa founded ecoPreserve in 2009 as a team of 3 and has grown the company to over a dozen of the brightest sustainability and project management professionals in the industry.
Alexa Stone


Helping organizations improve operations, reduce costs and achieve sustainability through data driven, efficiency focused, planning, reporting & certification.
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