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Here’s why you should never turn off the air conditioning above your seat

Sometimes, plane journeys can be deeply unpleasant for a myriad of reasons. For instance, they are notoriously cold.

The cold temperatures can be noticed especially when you are trying to sleep, which is why many people choose to switch off the air conditioning as soon as possible. Besides the cold air, people despise the idea of germs from hundreds of strangers spreading.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, according to Mirror UK. By shutting off the personal air vent, the possibility of getting ill increases. Dr. Mark Gendreau, medical director and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center-Peabody in Massachusetts, explained to Travel + Leisure why we should keep the ventilation on.


“For airborne viruses, it is incredibly important to ventilate, since ventilation becomes your main means of control besides isolating the affected person,” he said. These airborne viruses are transmitted by tiny droplets of nuclei that hang around in the air for up to five hours. Gendreau said these droplets can’t reach you if the air con is on, as it creates a protective barrier around you.

Many people attribute the air con to the spread of germs, which is incorrect, because “the air that you’re typically breathing and exposed to is usually anywhere from two to five rows surrounding your seat”, as Gendreau explained. “The flow pattern of air on an aircraft doesn’t necessarily work front to back, or back to front,” he added. “It’s actually compartmentalised into various sections on the aircraft.”

Next time you feel like turning off the ventilation, keep in mind that you might be exposing yourself to the mercy of germs and viruses.

Daisy Wilder