Home | Blog | 9 Ways to Not Get Sick from Airplane Travel | Ode to Beverly Kaye

9 Ways to Not Get Sick from Airplane Travel | Ode to Beverly Kaye

Normally, I only blog about something that relates to the Enneagram. This doesn’t do that except for the fact that the idea for this blog started with my dear friend Beverly Kaye – her newest book being Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go  – who travels more than I do. There I was (an Enneagram Two) offering advice about how to not get sick from airplanes to dear Beverly, an Enneagram Three.

1. Wear a neck scarf
Reason | I learned this from my friend Gloria Hung from China (Hong Kong) who made sure I do this as it is one of the many ways of Chinese medicine for maintaining health. Any kind of scarf works, and it protects your neck from the chill in airplanes. Why it works I don’t really know, but ever since I started doing this (even with a small silk scarf), I get less and less sick.

2. Bring a soft, warm, large sweater for warmth
Reason | The airplane blankets are so thin, they offer little warmth from the cool conditions on airplanes. And on domestic flights, you can’t even get these. So bring your own long sweater, blanket, or soft coat and use it to wrap up even on short flights. When your body gets chilled, infections find their way in.

3.Upgrade to business class when possible
Reason | Not only are the seats more comfortable and spacious and the food better than in coach, did you know that there is more fresh oxygen circulating when not in coach (which has a lot of recycled air shared by too many people)? This is why, in business, there are fewer germs circulating.

Obviously, business class is way too expensive for most people, but there are free upgrades or use your miles for upgrades. And if you get to the highest tier as a frequent flyer on an airline, they give lots of free upgrades, even when, for example, the flight is oversold. They then upgrade their top-tier flyers at not cost.

And then I learned an amazing fact from my friend, Ken Sergi. And it is true. Many airlines have extra business class seats that they will sell at the airport when it looks like business class is not filled, and there are no upgrades they need to give. They sell these at highly discounted rates, and the cost varies. All you have to do is ask. On Air Canada, I’ve been able to buy them at $150 USD for a flight across North America. Recently, I purchased an upgrade on British Airways from Johannesburg to London for $700. This may sound like a lot (and I did have to think it through), but my 12-hour flight left at 11:00 PM. $700 was the difference between being able to have a flat bed and sleep through the night or sitting in coach for 12 hours in close proximity to another person. It was the difference between getting sick or not sick!

4.Take a warm bath when you get to your destination
Reason | Years ago, I was sitting (via upgrade) next to an airline pilot who told me that they have unreleased studies that show pilots and flight attendants get all kinds of diseases related to chilled inner organs. Apparently, on flights, the air is so chilly underneath the temperature control that our inner organs get very cold. The only way to warm them up so they function well is to take a very warm bath when you get to your destination point and just soak for 10-15 minutes. Showers don’t have the same impact since they warm up your body’s exterior, but not the interior.

5. Don’t work on the plane
Reason | I used to always work on the airplane. Ah, solitude with not interruptions, and there was so much work to do. Then I realized that doing so was more stressful than simply not doing it. Now, I never or rarely (1% of the time) work on planes. The work still gets done, and I am simply more relaxed and less stressed. Read below what to do instead (that is, if you are not sleeping, which I highly recommend doing on planes as a way of catching up on missed sleep).

6. Get yourself an iPad (or some tablet)
Reason | I was a “tablet” holdout, not quite understanding their use since I have a smart phone and lightweight computer. But then, a project required me to purchase an iPad to do a task that could be done in no other way. And then, I downloaded several great TV shows (a full season’s worth), and now that’s all I do on planes. These shows are so absorbing, with no commercial breaks, that I feel 100% engaged and oblivious to being on a long plane ride. My iPad had made a huge difference. I download the shows overnight several days before I leave, so my computer does not slow down during the day.

7. Get a stash of magazines or a great book
Reason | iPads and sleep won’t get you through take off and landing, but magazines that interest you or a great book will. So I use these as an alternative to my iPad to keep me relaxed and engaged.

8. Get a window or aisle seat
Reason | This is obvious; middle seats get you squished with no arm room and no place to put your legs. When you book a flight, make sure you get your preferred available seat. I like window seats so if I am in coach class, I can put my head against the wall, with my soft neck pillow as an aide. I love my Brookstone very soft foam-green pillow!

9. Drink lots of water
Reason | Everyone says drink water, but do not drink alcohol, and the reason is dehydration because alcohol dehydrates us. So drink lots of water, even when you get to your final destination. It really does work.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

A long held *myth* is that infections “find their way in” when you are chilled. This myth results from the rise and fall of flu season each year during the colder months and has to do with the natural cycle of the virus, although experts aren’t exactly sure how it works. Being cold does not increase your risk of infections whether they are viral or bacterial. Instead, it is your immune system’s ability to “fight” the infection which is related to general overall health, presence of chronic illnesses, amount of exposure, and age.


Sharon Kowatch, CNP