If you’re getting on a plane this winter, there’s something you need to watch out for – GERMS! Yes, we’ve mentioned this before, but it’s time for your friendly seasonal reminder. Dr. Mark Gendreau, a senior staff physician at the Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts who studies germs while traveling, says during the winter months, respiratory viruses thrive. That’s because the risk of contracting a contagious illness is higher within any enclosed space - like being packed together like sardines on an airplane. So, here are a few ways to avoid germs while flying. We got this from CNN Health.

  • If you can, sit toward the front of the plane. Dr. Gendreau says pick a seat near the front. Ventilation systems on most commercial aircraft provide better air flow in the front of the aircraft. If you can afford it, sit in first class, where people aren’t so squished together and you’re less likely to catch something.
  • Don’t drink coffee or tea on an airplane. Research from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that water in most airplanes’ water tanks isn’t always safe to drink. According to Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for the Air Transport Association, coffee and tea are usually made from that water - not from bottled water. So the EPA says that anyone with a compromised immune system, or anyone who's “concerned” about bacteria should refrain from drinking these beverages while flying. The water isn’t generally brought to a high enough temperature to kill the germs.
  • Sanitize your hands after leaving an airplane bathroom. Charles Gerba, also known as Dr. Germ, is an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona. He says a toilet on an airplane is among the germiest things you’ll encounter anywhere. You have 50 to 75 people using the same toilet – and studies almost always find E. coli on surfaces in airplane restrooms. So bring hand sanitizer with you, and apply it when you return to your seat.