it's a common complaint: fly on a crowded plane and come home with a cold. what's in the air up there?
air travelers suffer higher rates of disease infection, research has shown. one study pegged the increased risk for catching a cold as high as 20%. and the holidays are a particularly infectious time of year, with planes packed full of families with all their presents and all those germs.
air that is recirculated throughout the cabin is most often blamed. but studies have shown that high-efficiency particulate air (hepa) filters on most jets today can capture 99.97% of bacterial and virus-carrying particles. that said, when air circulation is shut down, which sometimes happens during long waits on the ground or for short periods when passengers are boarding or exiting, infections can spread like wildfire.