The assertion that flying is safer than grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant might sound like the desperate attempt of frequent travelers to validate their lifestyle. In fact, it’s actually true. According to a new report from scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, flying is safer than some everyday activities. The report was part of the Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI) which studies the impact of airline and airport practices on public health during the pandemic.
Phase One of the report focuses on the gate-to-gate experience, from when passengers board the plane to when they exit their gate. It found that the measures airlines are taking to reduce transmission risk have been effective. These layers include ventilation systems (HEPA filters), mask mandates, new disinfection procedures, health screenings, and better education and passenger awareness about identifying symptoms before they can spread.
According to the report, “This layered approach, with ventilation gate-to-gate, reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out.”
That doesn’t mean flying is 100 percent safe, however.
“Until there has been widespread vaccination,” the report’s authors warn, “there remains the risk of infection in all walks of public life.”