Why going through airport security could leave you with a bad cold

2019-08-29 18:50 - Marisa Crous
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It's rather common for people to fall ill after a long-haul flight. 

It's not only the change in pressure or the high altitude. It is the proximity to loads of people - sharing toilets, plane seats, and small spaces with others who might potentially have flu or other respiratory infections. And then there's also some E.coli floating about.

Add on some stress, unsanitised tray tables, sitting awkwardly in a seat that forces your spine into a sad shrimp position, some cold air blasting onto your neck and lack of sleep, and there you have it: a fresh air-born sickness. 

READ: Shameless Passengers set the internet alight. Would you sleep on a plane floor? 

We asked you whether you tend to get sick on a plane, and the distribution of answers was quite equal: 

Do South Africans have superior immune systems? Or maybe we just take better precautions? 

People waiting in line waiting for security check

(PHOTO: iStock)

Here are a few ways in which Twitter says it keeps itself healthy while flying: 

Use vaseline in your nose as a protective barrier. Wipe your arm rests, tray table, seat belt clips, everything wth anti-bacterial wipes. Use an antibacterial hand lotion after the bathroom. Have a mask in case you sit next to or near someone who is ill. - @Applyyourmind

I take Airmune tablets for a few days leading up to departure, on departure and a few days after. They work! Seldom get sick - @MaryAnnDurban

The aircraft is not the main space where travellers fall ill

According to Travel and Leisure, the place where your immune system really takes a knock is at the airport itself. Yes. Even before your journey starts, you are at risk.

Just imagine, an airport like Atlanta, Georgia. One of the world's busiest airports with over 107 million passengers a year, there are a lot of feet, bums and hands going through those doors.  

More particularly, going through airport security. Those luggage trays? They are often to blame for you falling ill.

Last year, a study by the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare who swabbed a variety of surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland, found that half of the trays at one airport were harbouring at least one respiratory disease such as the common cold or influenza.

These trays go through a lot. Belts, bags and shoes all contaminate the trays, leaving behind harmful bacteria. 

READ: Neck pillow? Wine? What 28% of people say they do to sleep on a plane

It seems one of the best, or THE best precaution you can take while travelling, is to hand-sanitise after going through airport security. 

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