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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

We’ve all had that looming fear. Someone at the back of the plane sneezes, and you end up suffering from the flu for your entire vacation. And with COVID, concerns like these can reach stratospheric heights. But how legit are they?

Turns out flying might be safer than you thought.

Thanks to highly effective filters and efficient circulation on commercial aircrafts, the air you breathe in flight is much cleaner than the air in restaurants, bars, stores, or even your neighbor’s living room. Here’s what airlines are doing to clear the air.

Astounding Air Filtration
Most commercial aircraft are equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. Air is pumped from the ceiling into the cabin at a speed of about a yard per second. About 40 percent of a cabin’s air gets filtered through this HEPA system, while the remaining 60 percent is fresh and piped in from outside the plane. On average, cabin air is completely changed every three minutes while the aircraft is cruising. Certified HEPA filters block and capture 99.97 percent of airborne particles over 0.3 micron in size. And, surprisingly, the filters are even more efficient for smaller particles.

Masks are Still a Must
Keep in mind, these fantastic filters only guarantee the quality of the air that has passed through them. HEPA filters and rapid-air circulation don’t work at maximum effectiveness until the plane is airborne. And don’t necessarily protect you from the chatty traveler seated next to you. That’s why, in addition to good filtration systems, airline cabins also need good passengers. And that means everyone onboard should wear

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