How to Avoid Catching a Cold on a Plane

Be careful where you sit.

Winter is coming. As the sun starts to set earlier and winter coats come out of hiding, fears of catching a cold resurface. According to Heathline, people are more likely to get sick in the winter because they spend more time in enclosed spaces and viruses can live longer in colder temperatures. 

Meeting planners traveling to an event or on their way to a site inspection could be vulnerable to catching something on the plane. No one wants to get sick -- especially not when you're about to dive into to the thick of an event -- so, keep the following tips from Smarter Travel in mind the next time you're up in the air.

1. Pick Your Seat Wisely

Windows seats aren't just good for watching the sunset. A 2018 study from Georgia Tech and Emory University found that sitting away from the aisle is the best spot for passengers to avoid germs. 

According to the study, those seated in the aisle are particularly vulnerable to getting sick, as they are more likely to come in contact with germs from people wandering to the bathroom and back to their seats. If you're able to secure a coveted seat by the window, try to stay put. Walking around the cabin exposes you to a lot more germs from fellow travelers.

2. Keep Your Hands Clean

A report from Marketplace, the consumer watchdog arm of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., found that headrests, seat pockets, bathroom-door handles, tray tables and seat belts are the five dirtiest places on an airplane. Former flight attendants told CBC that turning planes around in 15 minutes or so doesn't leave time for a proper cleaning.

You'll therefore want to avoid using the tray tables and seat pockets if you can. Some spots like seatbelt buckles and bathroom-door handles might be unavoidable, but planners can prepare by bringing travel-sized hand sanitizers on board. The small bottle could be a lifesaver when the person next you to starts coughing or you have to get up and use the restroom.

3. Bring Your Own Water

Hydration is key to staying healthy, especially when flying which can dehydrate the body. In fact, the Aerospace Medical Association suggests drinking 8 fluid ounces for every hour of flight.

But airplane water is notoriously bad, with Spirit and JetBlue scoring a 1 out of 5 in a recent study from and the Hunter College Food Policy Center on the quality of water provided by airlines. Even the highest scoring carriers only received a 3.3, so it's best to bring your own reusable water bottle to fill once you're through security or buy a bottle before you board.

4. Take Vitamin C

While research on the effectiveness of vitamin C is mixed, according to Harvard Health, some studies suggest that taking vitamin C every day can cut your risk of getting a cold in half. So, go ahead and throw a pack of Emergen-C in your bag just in case.

Once you get off the plane, you'll want to head to the nearest bathroom to give your hands a proper wash. Continue to hydrate throughout the day and get plenty of rest, so your body is in top shape to fight off any germs you might have encountered on the plane.