Winter travel is hazardous enough with cold and flu season and the persistent threat of weather woes, and this year travelers have an added worry: the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Travelers should take added precautions to stay healthy at 30,000 feet.
What's a traveling germophobe to do on a plane?
- Wash your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The CDC says it is the single most important infection control measure, and it lists it first among the guidelines for preventing the spread of disease on commercial aircraft.
- Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer (the CDC recommends at least 60% alcohol) in case water isn't nearby.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, the CDC tells flight crews and passengers.
- Keep the air vents above your seat open to improve ventilation. Frequent flier and travel analyst Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research in San Francisco says he points the open vent to blow air away from him on every flight.
- Wipe down the arm rests and tray table with sanitary wipes and bring tissues to open the bathroom door.
- Bring a face mask in case you're seated next to someone coughing or sneezing. Harteveldt doesn't use one but says it's become routine for many passengers following the SARS epidemic in 2003. The CDC recommends flight crews use them when dealing with sick passengers with respiratory symptoms.