Why you don't want to sit in an aisle seat on a flight

Roshina Jowaheer
Cabin of a plane
Cabin of a plane

Where's the safest place to sit on a plane? Not in an aisle seat if you'd rather not pick up other passengers' germs and viruses, according to one expert.

Microbiologist Chuck Gerba has revealed that sitting in the aisle exposes you to bacteria and germs from other passengers.

Gerba, who heads up a research lab in the University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, says that sitting in an aisle seat puts you physically closer to passengers going to and from the bathroom.

He adds that people touch and hold aisle seats "when walking to help keep their balance, increasing the risk of contamination".

Speaking to io9, Gerba referred to an incident in 2008 when a tour group on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles came down with norovirus, with infected passengers were experiencing diarrhoea and vomiting throughout the plane.

When the other passengers on the flight were later contacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out if they came down with the vomiting bug, the CDC found that those most likely to have contracted the illness were passengers sitting in aisle seats as they were closer to the infected passengers who had been moving throughout the plane to get to the toilets.

Viruses can spread easily through the air on planes too. Earlier this month, experts created a video to show how a person sneezing in the middle of a plane can spread their germs throughout the entire cabin.

Software company ANSYS created the simulation which shows that people sitting next to and behind the person sneezing are most at risk of infection.

As a passenger sneezes, the particles travel into the air and remain in a cloud above their head.

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