So, you’re waiting to bard your plane… a member of staff approaches the gate and suddenly 99 per cent of the passengers jump to their feet and rush to be the first in the queue. But is it really such a good idea? Could boarding first be bad for your health?
We just can’t help ourselves. Being the first to board is an irresistible impulse we all have and being the first on the plane gives us the chance to choose the best seats available and to get set-up for getting in the air. But new research claims being the first on the plane could be bad for your health.
Boarding the plane first could give you a higher risk of catching a bug, according to new research from Arizona State University.
To figure out how exactly illness spread on a plane with just one ill passenger they played out different boarding scenarios and processes.
Most airlines choose to adopt a zone boarding process, where first class passengers are seated first, followed by subsequent sections until the plane is fully boarded.
However, the results from the research showed that this boarding process increased the likelihood of an ill individual infecting other passengers.
For example, if the infected person was seating in row 16A, they would have to walk past 16 rows of already seated passengers. Resulting in an increase in the likelihood that the ill person would spread the disease to these passengers and on to others as the plane becomes full.
Their findings also showed that when passengers board as families, this also increased the risk of other passengers being exposed to infections.
To help lower the risk of spreading infections via passenger contact, the researchers suggest a two-zone boarding process – seating half the plane from the front and half from the back. This process would result in passenger contact being lowered by 27 per cent.