I know that people complain about the air quality on airplanes. They run something like this:
• It’s too dry
• It’s stale, and just smells funny
• It’s smells like jet fuel
• All those smoking odors from the smokers onboard
• Sick people spreading all those germs
• Body odors — yuck!
Tell me about it! You’ve got a bunch of people crammed together in a long metal tube, for long periods of time, and despite the best air filtering systems, it can still be uncomfortable. And this is my work environment!
There are lots of things that you can do to help stay healthy while your traveling, and many of them are options for the time you’re on the plane. But one option that I cannot recommend is the airplane air filters that fit onto to overhead air nozzle.
I don’t even have to get to the issue of whether they work, or not. That doesn’t matter. The bigger issue is that I don’t know of any U.S. airlines that allow them to be used. My airline does not, and I’ve talked to friends flying for other carriers, and they all report the same information. If your airline does allow them to be used, I’d appreciate the info in a comment.
Why would the airlines ban the use of such a product when it obviously does good thing? An easy question, with a far more complicated answer.
Aviation is a regulated industry. That means that nearly every single thing about it is governed by some regulation. Each airline has minor differences in its interpretation and implentation of regulations, but it’s all done with an eye toward safety. One of those regulations at my airline deals with what can be attached to the airplane itself, and that covers these individual air filtering units. They cannot be attached to the plane without violating one of our safety regulations.
What will a flight attendant do if you are using this unit? They will ask you to discontinue use, assuming that you will comply. It would be good to do.
Some day, you may be able to use these units onboard. But first, there will need to be lots of testing to determine that they are safe. (There have been reports of the unit being a fire hazard.) Until then, however, don’t expect to be using them on your next flight.
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