The Best Type Of Mask To Wear On A Plane

If you're planning to fly during the pandemic, it will be essential that you wear a face covering. Not just for health reasons, but because every major airline is requiring it, according to Afar. The rules went into effect in May, and while most people comply, there have been instances of people being removed from planes because they refused to wear a mask (via USA Today).

But what does that mean? Can you wear a face shield or does it have to be a mask? Recently, on Allegiant Air, a man was removed from the flight following a fight with fellow passengers, according to CBS News. The passenger was wearing a face shield but was asked to also put a mask on by the flight attendant. Qatar Airways started issuing face shields and masks to passengers and is requiring both to be worn by economy passengers, according to the Washington Post.

While the hard, plastic surface of a face shield may seem better than a face mask — and there's the added convenience that people can see you — the shields don't always offer full protection to the sides of the face. In the case of the airlines, it's best not to try and wear one alone. Augment it with the required mask.

But what type of mask should you fly with?

A recent study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University tested the efficacy of four types of face coverings. The team used a fog machine to visualize respiratory particles expelled during coughing or speaking, according to the journal Physics of Fluid. They tested homemade cloth masks, such as the kind sold by retailers or on Etsy, cone-style masks, loosely folded handkerchiefs, and bandanas.

Results showed that the homemade cloth masks offered the best protection, keeping particles from traveling more than two inches. The off-the-shelf cone-style masks kept particles from traveling more than eight inches. Folded handkerchiefs and bandanas fared the worst, with particles traveling more than a foot and more than three feet, respectively.

It's not hard to find any of these kinds of face coverings and all of them offered more protection than being uncovered. In that case, particles traveled up to eight feet. For overall safety and protection against the coronavirus, and to abide by airline rules, be sure to have one of these options with you before traveling to the airport.