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ASU study says airplane boarding process ups risk of getting sick

Aug 14, 2017, 4:08 AM | Updated: 1:25 pm

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PHOENIX — The way people board airplanes increases the chances they may get sick, a study from Arizona State University said.

The study said airlines that load people on a plane by their seat number and force them to stand in crowded aisles ups the spread of communicable disease by 67 percent.

Researchers said the boarding process posed a triple threat to spreading sickness because people are in close contact for extended periods, are in an enclosed space and mix people from different geographic locations who many have different vulnerabilities to disease.

The study’s co-author, Anju Mubayi, said his team proposed a new boarding system that would load one side of the plane before the other. Passengers would board randomly within those sections.

Mubayi said the system would likely prevent bottlenecks and keep passengers from coming into close contact with any one person for an extended period.

The study also suggested that, in the event of certain disease outbreaks, airlines could use smaller planes instead of canceling flights altogether.

“Using smaller airplanes during [a disease] outbreak instead of completely banning flights to a specific destination can drastically reduce the probability of introduction of infection,” Mubayi said.

The study found no issue with the way people disembark, as it normally happens in a quicker fashion than boarding.

 

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ASU study says airplane boarding process ups risk of getting sick