Harvard Study: Risk of Transmission of COVID-19 On Planes is Very Low

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A new detailed gate-to-gate study from scientists at Harvard University shows with the measures air carriers like JetBlue have put in place to protect crewmembers and customers including with JetBlue’s Safety from the Ground Up program, the risk of contracting COVID-19 while taking a flight is very low.

Layered Protections Mean Air Travel is Safer than Day-to-Day Activities

The researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health have found that between added safety measures and advanced aircraft ventilation, hopping on a flight is safer than many of the activities we are doing on a daily or weekly basis.

The study shows that ventilation of the air on aircraft reduces the possibility of exposure to COVID-19, lower than other common settings, such as a grocery store or indoor restaurant. These safety measures actually counter the reduced distance between travelers during flights, the study indicates.

“Our team found that, together with their high-performing ventilation systems, the actions that the airlines put in place – including mandatory use of face masks – significantly reduce risks of viral transmission aboard an airplane,” the Harvard researchers said.

The Right Combination: HEPA Filtration & Face Coverings

JetBlue was the first U.S. airline to require face coverings be worn by all customers and crewmembers after health experts made clear they are highly effective in reducing transmission of COVID-19.  When you add face coverings to the hospital equivalent HEPA air filtration system onboard every JetBlue aircraft, the reduction of risk is compounded, according to the study.

All JetBlue aircraft are outfitted with a HEPA air filtration system that combines hospital-grade filtration with critical top to bottom air flow that pushes air in a downward motion, including viruses and bacteria, stopping them from moving freely in the air. Because of the frequent exchange of air and HEPA filters on planes, over 99% of the particles containing the virus are removed from cabin air every few minutes. Learn how an onboard HEPA filter works here.

Disinfection & More with Safety from the Ground Up

The Harvard study also found that airlines, like JetBlue, are doing things right by increasing disinfection of high-touch surfaces on aircraft.  In fact, the study says there is “very low probability” of transmission of COVID-19 by touching surfaces onboard.

JetBlue has increased both cleaning and disinfection of aircraft both during overnight cleanings and between flights, focusing on common touchpoints like tray tables and seats.  JetBlue has implemented both standard hand disinfection as well as electrostatic spraying, both with disinfectants known to kill human coronavirus.

Learn More About JetBlue’s Safety Program

JetBlue has always taken a layered approach to safety, and in response to COVID-19, the Safety from the Ground Up program brings together proven measures to keep crewmembers and customers safe and healthy. From more space and fewer touchpoints, to ensuring crewmembers are coming to work healthy, and of course, clean air and surfaces, this layered approach makes travel available to those who want or need some time away.  Learn more about Safety from the Ground up at jetblue.com/safety.