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Allow sick passengers to sit at the back of a plane

Image credit: Photo a courtesy of gratisography.

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Michaela D
Michaela D Feb 09, 2022
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Make it standard for sick passengers to sit in the last row of the plane to avoid infecting more passengers.
Why?
Often people travel on planes sick. It is understandable that if someone has booked airplane tickets, hotels, etc they do not want to change/cancel their plans. However, even with the protection measures in the era of a pandemic, transmission can still take place on a plane. People do not always wear reinforced masks and during meals, everyone removes their masks at the same time.
Even if a sick person does not have Covid (which may also be the case even if they are vaccinated/tested etc), there are thousands more viruses someone can catch. It is not fair for other passengers to get sick, and potentially have their own vacation disturbed.
How it works
1) The person who is unwell informs the personnel at the check-in counter or the gate before boarding. The personnel makes arrangements for the sick passenger to be seated at the back row and they try to leave empty as many seats as possible around them. If the plane is full they can transfer some passengers from the last rows to business class ;-)
It would be smoother if the person could already indicate they are sick during online check-in so that the seats are arranged beforehand. However, it would take time to implement this feature in the online check-in process.
2) Another passenger informs the flight attendant that someone sitting close to them are sick (sneezing, coughing, shivering . . .). The flight attendant asks politely that passenger to go to the back of the plane. Alternatively, they do not move the sick passenger but the people who sit next to them and want to be transfered.
In any case, the sick pessanger needs to be given a high protection mask.
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Creative contributions

Ventilation that prevents any particles from the sick area from crossing to the front

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Feb 11, 2022
With good ventilation and vent positioning, the air from the sick area would never cross into the rest of the plane (train, ship, etc), thereby minimizing the likelihood of other passengers getting infected.
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Michaela D
Michaela D4 months ago
Newer planes have a very good ventilation system, and it could be further reinforced for the "sick rows". Filtered air comes from the top of each row and mostly from the center, on the aisle. However, for the air to be filtered again it passes from the aisle seat to the window seat of each row. So, you have a higher chance to get infected if someone sick is seating between you and the aisle. Also, if someone is sneezing and coughing the droplets could overpower the airflow.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
Michaela D The air would need to be flowing away from healthy people.
Ideally still, the ventilation througout the plane would be made so that it's impossible for the air to cross over more than 2 sats radius (1 would be too much suction)
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General comments

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
Another thing to consider is that healthy people will always complain when they get a seat adjacent to the sick area
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Michaela D
Michaela D4 months ago
Good point. Ideally, there would be at least one empty row in between or a distance higher than 1.5 meters, horizontally or diagonally from a sick person. If not possible because the flight is full: 1) transfer the closest passengers to business class, 2) offer a ticket discount to whoever is willing to sit closer, 3) offer reimbursement and a ticket to the next flight (similar to what happens on overbooked flights).
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
Michaela D also, empty rows represent loss of profit for airlines. They would probably sooner separate the sick area with some kind of foil
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 months ago
I like the intention but there are a few things that may disturb the execution here. If the flight is sufficiently empty, only one door is opened for boarding. All passengers enter through the same door (both sick and healthy). They may touch the seats while walking to their seats. Moreover, the area is not much, further increasing the chances of infection. Also, what about the toilets? They may be unevenly distributed between the sick and the healthy. Then, if one flight segment contains 10 sick and 10 healthy people, the toilets can be distributed evenly. If in the next segment, there are 5 sick people and 50 healthy people, they might need one of the sick-people toilets. However, since the flights are not sanitized between segments, they won't be able to use it. This may lead to more complaints from the travelers.
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Michaela D
Michaela D4 months ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni all the points you raised are valid and show how hygiene could be further reinforced. Most of the infection factors you mentioned already take place and with the current mingling of healthy and sick people, it is even worse.
Entrance: lately many airlines do boarding by rows. If sick people sit at the back then they go first and they spend less time being close to others during boarding. If they are in between they are among healthy people for much longer. Hands touching seats: just add hydroalcoholic gel at the gate. Let's keep in mind that the risk for contamination (at least for respiratory viruses) is much smaller through objects. Toilets: in big airplanes as you said it may be possible to have "sick" people toilets. However, in most cases, you would have only a few sick people so, yes, toilets would be shared, as it is done now anyway. The difference would be that healthy people would prefer the toilets at the front and if they used the back ones they would be more careful.
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