As you can imagine, the volume of traveling done during the holidays adds to the increased risk of catching a cold and being exposed to other potential illnesses. According to the Advisory Board, a global best practices organization focused on healthcare, one of the most common ways to transmit disease or illness is on a plane.

With that in mind, here are the main things to look out for when traveling by plane during the holidays:


Two-seat radiusThe Wall Street Journal says there’s a two-seat radius where you are more at risk for catching cold from someone. In fact, according to the research, coach cabin passengers had a 7.7% greater risk of contracting H1N1 if they sat within two seats of an infected passenger. The bottom line is, if you see someone is visibly ill, avoid sitting near them. If that’s not possible, use the overhead vent to try and circulate air in front of your face.

image of interior of a commercial airplane

Aisle seats – it’s almost impossible when boarding a plane to not touch an aisle seat as you are trying to find your own seat. This explains why aisle seats have the potential for more exposure to germs than interior seats as a person feeling under the weather may touch the seat and the person who ends up sitting there may come in contact with the germs. Try not to sit in the aisle seat, if possible.


During a flight, an airplane restroom tends to get plenty of traffic. But airplane restrooms aren’t cleaned during flights, so you may pick up germs just by visiting the restroom. So instead of washing your hands with the bathroom soap, bring along your own hand sanitizer and use it.


Researchers have found influenza virus, norovirus, and MRSA on airplane food trays. Therefore, it’s best to clean your food tray with an alcohol-based hand wipe before you eat from it.

So this holiday season, be sure to enjoy visiting friends and family and all the wonderful food and good times. And be sure to bring the hand sanitizer along on your journey. When you return home, and you’re not sick, you’ll be glad you did.

Are you traveling to visit loved ones? Let us know where in the comments below.

By Craig Layne