Getting Sick When Flying Economy?

This year really is going to be a crazy year for a student to be flying. While in 2014 I flew ten flights, that’s the count I’m going to be reaching by as early as end March. (While I have literally nothing scheduled between April and June, inclusive, July will be a fun month as I have four longhauls scheduled for then.)

In January, I reviewed Thai Airways’ A330 economy class.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

In February, I got on three Korean Air 777-200 flights and got stuck on a 747-400 on the way back.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class

Then last week I got on Cathay Pacific’s A330 to Kuala Lumpur. While that was more for the event, it was my first time flying my favorite economy seat on actual Cathay Pacific mainline material. It was fun flying with some of my closest friends, some of them for the first time.

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Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

So after I came back from Bangkok, I got pretty sick. I thought that was just a function of getting back to 2˚C weather, and not anything to actually do with the frequency of which I was travelling (while Bangkok was my first trip in two months, I was out and about for basically 18 hours a day there, which didn’t help with rest).

It turns out I got sick again after I came back from KL.

My mother came to the conclusion that I got sick because I was travelling too much. But I’d only taken eight flights this year – I mean, people take more than quadruple that!

That brings me to my point: is one more likely to get sick when travelling in economy?

There are a couple of things that make this point seem true:

There are more people

We’re much closer to each other in economy. While I normally don’t mind that, it’s awkward if my seatmate’s sick, I’m sick, or a guy around us is coughing his balls out. As the Emirates CEO Sheikh Ahmed said, economy lets us “be close to people”. While that’s good in theory when I’m with friends, it’s less awesome when I’m alone or in a coughing fit.

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Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

There’s less quality of sleep

While economy is awesome when it comes to actually talking to people (while I’d fly business class in a heartbeat, you can’t really communicate with people in the world’s most private seats), it’s not nearly as easy to sleep. When I’m actually sleepy, I do crave for a flat surface, and economy seats don’t really deliver.

My last longhaul flights in economy were to Auckland, and while I slept surprisingly well on the outbound, my sleep on Air New Zealand was terrible, something I’ve found to be the case on non-window seats.

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Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200ER Economy Class

It looks like I’ll be needing a little rest before I keep pushing out in the end of March, but I’m having four hours of sleep a day anyway with the exams, so it looks like I’ll have to catch up on sleep in June before I keep flying in July.

Has anyone ever got sick after flying economy? Who’s had the same thoughts?

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