A study conducted by the Royal Society Open Science journal has found that the Coronavirus risk rises by 50% if plane boarding is conducted by back-seated passengers first.
Why Boarding Back Passengers First Doesn’t Work
Back-to-front boarding is where passengers seated at the back of the aircraft are allowed to board first.
It has also been found to be 2x riskier compared to letting passengers board at random.
The risk is exaggerated because of passengers who come into close contact in the same rows when they get congested in the aisle while storing their luggage.
The exacerbation of the risk factor through clustering in the aisles resembled transmission of the Ebola virus in prior studies.
Delta, an American airline, had adopted the back-to-front boarding tactic in a misguided attempt to “minimize contact with other customers”.
The intention was to have people avoid contact with passengers passing by to sit in the other rows.
Middle Seat Blocking 57% More Efficient
Other changes implemented across the aviation industry included keeping the middle seat in a 3-seater row empty to reassure passengers of anti-virus measures.
The middle seat blocking measure has been found to reduce the virus spread on planes by up to 57% by the CDC in the US.
16,000 simulations have been carried out by University of West Florida, Florida State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University which have debunked the efficacy of these measures as compared to the ones that were in place before the pandemic.
The simulations were studying the dynamics of boarding plane passengers during the pandemic.
Pre-Pandemic Measures Actually Safer
The pre-pandemic measures were actually found to be more ideal wherein business class passengers were allowed first passage followed by the economy class.
Measures suggested to lower exposure risk include prevention of usage of overhead storage bins since passengers are confined in a tiny radius attempting to stuff their luggage overhead.
Another measure suggested was the boarding of passengers ticketed for window seats before the aisle ones.
Good news is a couple days away since the guilty airlines will be reverting to the recommended pre-pandemic boarding methods come May 1.