Studies show that cabin air quality is as good or better than what you would experience in a normal office environment. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters capture over 99.9% of airborne microbes. Aircraft are also regularly disinfected as part of normal cleaning routines.

But you can take additional self-help measures to make the trip more enjoyable: drink much water and juice to keep well hydrated, wear loose clothing, stretch and excercise your feet and ankles while seated.

You will find below our answers to the most frequently asked questions related to health and air transport.

Coronavirus FAQ answered by IATA’s Medical Advisor

The WHO is not advising any restrictions on travel or trade, even though many countries have made unilateral decisions to introduce them. International coordination is key in dealing with the virus outbreak.  

The range of simple measures advised by WHO are effective even for passengers on a flight:  careful and regular handwashing, or hand sanitizer, avoiding touching other people, covering coughs and sneezes (and then handwashing), avoiding travelling if becoming unwell. Wear a mask only if you are not feeling well.

The risk is lower. Cabin air in a modern aircraft is changed more frequently than in offices or shops.  The air supply is either fresh or filtered through HEPA filters of the same efficacy as those used in surgical operating rooms.  

IATA maintains a suite of public health emergency guidelines for airlines, aimed at cabin crew, ground staff, baggage handlers, cleaning crew, etc. These were developed when dealing with various public health emergencies since SARS and are accepted by the WHO.

We have also been in regular contact with airlines following the coronavirus outbreak. The IATA Medical Advisor provides daily updates to the IATA medical contact group of about 200 airline representatives.

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.