FX Excursions

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Harvard Study Finds Risk of COVID-19 Exposure During Air Travel Low

by Kimberly Krol Inlander

Oct 28, 2020

© Jaromír Chalabala | Dreamstime.com

eFlyer Lead

Scientists at T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard conducted a gate-to-gate study to determine the layered approach U.S. airlines took to protect travelers and employees from COVID-19 has made the risk of exposure during air travel low. According to a release from Delta Air Lines, one of a few remaining airlines still blocking the middle seat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not confirmed a single case of COVID-19 transmission on a U.S. airplane.

According to the study, universal use of face masks, enhanced cleaning protocols and advanced ventilation and filtration systems offer protection against the virus, lowering risks to minimal levels. The report also noted face masks are “the most essential part of a comprehensive set of measures to reduce COVID-19 during air travel.” Delta was among the first airlines to require passengers and employees to wear masks or face coverings onboard the aircraft.

Harvard’s research team said highly effective ventilation systems mitigate disease exposure by rapid and continuous filtering and exchange of cabin air. In addition to HEPA filters on aircraft, Delta is replacing the current air filtering systems that pump outside air into jet bridges and parked aircraft with LEED Platinum MERV14 filters for a 40 percent reduction in air particles and cleaner air in those spaces.

In conclusion, the Harvard study found a “combination of layered infection control measures” reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the air travel process.

Do these studies make you feel more confident about air travel? Have you flown since the beginning of the pandemic? What additional measures are you taking as a traveler during the pandemic? Tell us about it. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.

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