Air travel is lower Covid risk than eating out

By Bev Fearis, published 28/10/20

A study in the U.S. has concluded that the risk of catching Covid-19 onboard an aircraft is lower than eating out or going to the supermarket.

Scientists from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health claim the layered hygiene and safety approach being taken by U.S. airlines – including mandatory face masks, strict cleaning protocols and advanced ventilation and filtration systems - means the risk of exposure during air travel is very low.

“The risk of Covid-19 transmission onboard aircraft is below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out,” the Harvard researchers concluded.

The study was sponsored by the U.S. airline lobbying group, Airlines for America, along with other aircraft and equipment manufacturers, and airport operators.

But the group insists the report’s findings and recommendations are the "independent conclusions" of the Harvard researchers.

Three studies published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases found likely cases of Covid-19 transmission onboard international flights, but stressed that they happened before airlines made masks mandatory.