Coronavirus

4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Protecting yourself while traveling after masks no longer required on planes

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Posted at 5:44 PM, Apr 20, 2022

(WXYZ) — Masks are no longer required on planes and other modes of transportation. Now, many Americans are concerned that contracting COVID-19 will increase with maskless travelers.

So many people are concerned about getting infected, especially when flying. No one wants to go on vacation and end up sick for days in a hotel room.

Masks can still help protect you, even if you’re the only person wearing one when traveling. It’s called one-way masking. It’s still effective because masks provide a barrier between your nose and virus-carrying particles in the air around you. Having said that, not all masks provide the same protection. Two key factors determine how well you are protected.

The first is how well your mask fits. And the second is how well the mask filters out particles. The most protective masks are N95s and KN95s. These masks filter out 95% of particles in the air as they’re made with high-tech filtering material. But you must be wearing it properly for it to work. And not everyone likes them because they fit snugly which can make people feel like it’s a bit harder to breathe.

Surgical masks are another type of mask people like to wear. They are roughly 5% to 10% less effective than an N95 mask. Once again, the fit is key. So if you prefer this type, it’s important to adjust the ear loops to avoid side gaps.

Lastly, we have the ever-popular cloth mask. We know they’re pretty comfortable, but cloth masks cannot filter out small particles, only large droplets. However, the most important thing I’d like to stress about masks is to find one that fits well and that you’ll wear.

When flying, the highest risk is when the plane is not moving and people are either sitting still in their seats or lining up to get off the plane. That’s because planes have better air circulation when up in the air as do buses and trains.

However, people can spend a lot more time flying, and this ups their risks, especially if someone sitting nearby is maskless and has COVID. So I recommend turning on the air vents and letting the air blow your way. Airplane air is filtered using HEPA filters that can capture about 99% of particles.

So if you do plan to travel, you don’t have to ditch the mask. It may be optional, but masks can help protect the wearer, especially if it’s an N95.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.