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According to a new study, it's actually pretty hard to catch COVID-19 on a plane


Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Whether as a result of the sanitizing measures taken by air carriers or independently of them, it now seems like the chances of catching COVID-19 while flying are actually pretty low.

According to a new study carried out by MIT professor of management science Arnold Barnett, any given traveler incurs a one in 4,300 chances of getting sick on a two-hour flight. The odds become one in 7,700 on airlines that block out middle seats. It is worth noting that the professor's findings do not account for off-board travel aspects, like walking through an airport, for example. 

The variables that Barnett did study include the advanced air filtration systems that virtually all airplanes now boast, the chances of sitting next to someone who is contagious and the odds of masks not actually providing protection from the spread. 

The professor went even further, establishing that the folks who will (unlikely) be infected while flying will only incur a one in 400,000 or one in 600,000 chances of dying from the illness, depending on health factors and one's age. That being said, Barnett himself—who is 72 years old—opts not to gamble with chance, preferring to avoid air travel for the time being. 

Given the U.S State Department's recent lift of its "do not travel" advisory and Americans' itching for domestic travel, this new study—which has yet to be peer-reviewed—gets us giddy with excitement while calming our nerves.

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