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Boarding in groups: This is why getting on a plane can endanger your health


Air travel: Increased risk of infection through group boarding
On some flights, passengers are asked to enter the machine in different groups. According to a new study, this form of boarding increases the risk of infection. Other methods are therefore associated with a lower health risk.

Health risks when traveling by air
Air travel poses a health risk for various reasons. Not only because the risk of thrombosis is increased on an airplane, but also because studies have found that there is sometimes toxic air in aircraft cabins that can cause illness. In addition, getting into the machine can pose a risk, since boarding is particularly at risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Increased risk of infection when boarding
On many flights nowadays you are asked to join the plane in groups. Most of the time, the passengers in the back rows of seats should first take their places so that everyone can move faster in the end.

However, the time saved by this form of boarding is often hardly worth mentioning. In addition, the method apparently leads to a health risk.

Because, as US researchers now report, group boarding increases the risk of infection.

Another method would be cheaper
The researchers led by Ashok Srinivasan from Florida State University used computer simulations to show that boarding in blocks encourages the spread of pathogens.

According to computer scientists' model calculations, the risk of infection is greatest when the passengers have to be divided into three groups who enter the machine from the back to the front.

"If you have multiple zones, people in the same zone tend to be very close to each other, close enough to transmit infections," Srinivasan said in a message.

As the experts found in their study, which was published in the specialist magazine "Physical Review", it would be cheaper if the cabin were instead filled lengthways, first on the right and then on the left.

Random principle is safer
The random principle is even better, since the passengers "are less likely to spend a longer time in the vicinity of others," says the study author.

"Overall, random boarding takes longer, but if passengers could choose to sit between Ebola and a few minutes later, we suspect they would prefer the latter."

The study also showed that infections are less common in smaller aircraft than in larger planes, as larger groups of passengers increase the risk of contracting a communicable disease.

The background to the investigation was the Ebola epidemic, which also spread through travelers in 2014 and was rampant in West Africa. At that time, the deadly disease had not been ruled out in Germany either. (ad)

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