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Don't feel bad — 44 percent of travelers do. 

Talia Avakian
October 27, 2017

The world of aviation can be complex, so there are plenty of myths flying around surrounding how air travel actually works.

Honeywell, which produces environmental control systems and cabin pressure technology for planes, decided to find out what some of the biggest myths about flying are.

The company recently polled 2,346 adults across the U.S. as part of its Air Travel Myths and Misconceptions survey.

The results revealed that nearly half of travelers (44 percent) believed recycled germs through a plane’s cabin air system could make you sick when flying.

However, planes are outfitted with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters that are able to capture many of the microbes and particles associated with the common cold. The filters are effective in capturing 99.9995 percent of microbes and germs found in the air, the International Air Transport Association notes.

Additionally, viruses associated with the common cold and upper respiratory track infections are often too large and heavy to hang in the air, according to Dr. Mark Gendreau, director and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center-Peadbody. Because of this, the viruses fall to the floor, or to other surfaces, rather quickly. 

That's why touching surfaces where these particles may have landed or where plenty of other passengers touch, like the tray table, seatbelt buckle, or restroom door, can increase your chances of getting sick. 

RelatedThe Truth Behind Common Jet Lag Myths 

In a study conducted by TravelMath, tray tables had a bacteria population of 2,155 per square inch, making them the dirtiest place on a plane. Taking preventative measures like using sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer can help in these instances.

Finally, you might also want to steer clear of ordering any hot tea or coffee on your next flight. It turns out that the water that’s used for your in-flight refreshments can also be harboring germs and microbes you might not expect, ranging from coliform to E. coli

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This can occur because tap water is typically used to make hot refreshments, and can sometimes be refilled at foreign airports that have varying water standards. 

While there are a variety of other factors that can actually contribute to catching a cold while flying, if you're still feeling unable to breathe easy, turn the little air vent above your head on

The vent works to form an invisible barrier around you, preventing any tiny particles that might be in the air from reaching your mucous membrane.

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