Americans have been playing it safe and avoiding travel since the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, but that’s about to change. Fifty-five percent plan to make significant trips between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. More than half who travel will do so by air.
But as the pandemic continues, is it safe to fly?
Many assume so because air is typically well-circulated and highly-filtered on most airplanes (it’s a good idea to ask if your flight will be on a plane that has one). According to MIT Medical, air volume supplied by overhead vents is frequently refreshed and recycled through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, resulting in air quality that is “quite high.”
Furthermore, while all airlines now require masks, Delta Airlines is the only one who will continue to block seats to keep passengers apart. Other airlines have returned to their standard practices, with some alerting passengers to a flight’s seating status during check-in.
While acknowledging that HEPA-filter-equipped airplanes are among the safest closed spaces, MIT Medical has said that even a short flight “still carries moderate risks and should not be undertaken lightly.”
This is true for several reasons.
Does that mean air travel is unsafe, after all? Not necessarily.
While cloth and disposable masks provide little protection for the wearer, respirators filter the air as you inhale it. N95 respirators, for example, filter inhaled air with 95 percent efficiency.
The problem with N95s is that they trap exhaled air, increasing your carbon dioxide intake and causing lightheadedness or headaches. Some are made with an exhalation valve to aid breathing, but as the CDC warns, this valve works against the prevention of spread if you are a carrier without knowing it.
The solution to achieve safety and comfort is a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR), such as the JustAir system. With a PAPR, a rechargeable, battery-powered blower supplies fresh air to the mask. It passes through your own personal HEPA filter that filters out 99.97 percent of viruses, allergens, and smoke.
Teresa M. Scott, an “airway-centered” dentist from Spring, Texas, and her family used JustAir systems on a flight from Houston to Cancún for a family vacation.
“For ten continuous hours, we breathed comfortably. No headaches, no lightheadedness, or panic attacks,” she said, adding that she recommends JustAir to anyone who needs to wear a mask.
The pandemic isn’t over, but travel over the holidays and into 2021 can be safe and comfortable with a powered air-purifying respirator.
More information about JustAir is available at www.myjustair.com.