For as long as we can remember, we’ve been shutting off the air vents above our seats the moment we sit down on any and every plane. We do this because planes are always freezing, and because that air blowing directly into our face for hours and hours doesn’t seem as though it’d be very good for us; however, according to Travel + Leisure, closing down the vents could actually be making us sicker when we travel than would letting them blow. According to Dr. Mark Gendreau, an expert on the spread of infectious diseases, “Ventilation on airplanes has gotten a bad reputation, but it’s completely unfounded.” Though the main air filtration system on a plane can actually successfully eliminate many types of airborne viruses, he explains, certain strains tend to hang in the air for longer than others. Your air vent can “create an invisible air barrier around you that creates turbulence—simultaneously blocking these particles and forcing them to the ground faster.” Since dry air on a plane can dehydrate your mucus membranes and make them more susceptible to sickness, keeping virus particles at bay in this way is important.
We’re shocked by this information but also grateful for it, as we never fail to fall ill after flying. The next time you travel, we suggest doubling up on blankets and doubling down on air, as it’s apparently your best protection against the (presumably, many) bugs swirling around you.