How clean is the air in an aircraft? See insight from Dr Bogoch, University of Toronto

Do you need to travel by air or have traveled recently? Or has your trip been canceled? Below are a few resources to help you through the  Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

All health instructions are aligned with the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). See WHO's update from 09 March.




What you should know if you have or need to travel by air

While the risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is typically lower than in a shopping center or an office environment, there are simple measures you can take to further reduce the risk of illness if you are travelling.

These video clips with Dr. Isaac Bogoch, from the University of Toronto will provide you with many useful tips to best protect yourself and others. 

While you must not travel when you are ill, should you experience symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness during or after a trip, seek medical attention and share your travel history with your health care provider. Most governments also provide clear instructions.

Air travel restrictions

Please refer to the IATA Travel Centre updates on travel restrictions.

Coronavirus FAQ

Please refer to IATA Travel Centre website for the latest updates on travel restrictions related to the Coronavirus outbreak.

No, this is not IATA’s role. But many airlines show flexibility around rebooking and waving change fees. Please check with your airline or travel agent. 

The range of simple measures advised by WHO are effective even for passengers on a flight: careful hand-washing on a regular basis, or at least hand sanitize, avoiding touching other people, covering coughs and sneezes (and then hand-washing), avoiding travelling if becoming unwell, and avoiding contact with anyone who appears to be unwell. 

One question that is often asked is whether passengers should wear masks when on a flight. Wear a mask if you are not feeling well. Otherwise there is no need to do so. 

We assess that the risk is lower. Compared with those locations, a modern aircraft has its cabin air changed many times more frequently than offices or shops.  The air supplied to the aircraft cabin is either fresh or is filtered through HEPA filters of the same efficacy (99.97% or better) in removing viruses as those used in surgical operating rooms.  As in a shopping center or an office, the biggest risk is if someone remains in the environment while unwell with a viral infection. Hence maintain good personal hygiene is key!

General Health & Aviation Frequently Asked Questions

Very safe. In fact, these European Aviation Safety Agency studies  showed that “the cabin/cockpit air quality is similar or better than what is observed in normal indoor environments” such as offices, schools and home dwellings.

Modern aircraft have high efficiency air filters similar to those used  in hospital operating rooms. They capture more than 99.9% of the airborne microbes in the filtered air.

See these useful resources:

The Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) article on "Medical Considerations for Airline Travel" is specifically meant for physicians. Physicians can also check IATA's Medical Manual, providing guidelines on fitness to fly.