Boarding passengers seated in the back of the plane first – a change from the Covid-era by Delta Air Lines Inc. and others to reduce the risk of infection – actually increases the chances of catching the virus by 50%, a scientific study has shown.
So-called rear boarding is also twice as risky as leaving passengers to chance, although this reduces exposure between seated passengers and those getting off the plane, according to the study published Wednesday in the Royal Society journal. Open Science. . The higher risk arises from closer contact between passengers in the same rows who congregate in the aisle as they are packing their luggage.
Delta adopted direct boarding to “minimize contact with other customers,” according to its website, although the US airline only takes 10 passengers at a time. The change has been among several in the industry – including locking the middle seats – to persuade passengers that it is safe to board a plane.
Scientists from institutions such as the University of West Florida and Florida State University simulated 16,000 possible passenger movements for the study. “The new policies in no way improve the old ones,” they said. Delta’s media office did not respond to an email requesting comment.
According to the study, the risk of exposure to the virus could be reduced by stopping people using overhead storage bins and boarding passengers in window seats before those in aisle seats.
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