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sep 22 2009

Fresher cabin air

Our recent article "8 Things an Airline Would Never Tell You" provoked a lot of reader reaction around the Internet at Bing Travel and Airliners.net.

Probably the most provocative item discussed was this one:

"Our air may make you sick." The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether potentially harmful fumes have been circulating in airplane cabins. Between 1999 and 2008, air became contaminated on 926 flights, reports the FAA, without specifying any possible health risks….

Since we published that article, though, The Economist has reported some positive news about purifying the air in airplane cabins. Two British firms, BAE Systems and Quest International, have said that they have successfully adapted air purifying technology for airplanes. Think a technology similar to HEPA filters, which screen out 99.99 percent of pathogens. The devices clear the air 30 times an hour.

The good news: The technology is compatible with Boeings' upcoming 787 Dreamliners.

The bad news: The purifying equipment costs $16,000 a pop, so no airline has yet volunteered to install it. Sadly, older planes can't support the high-tech machines.

The verdict: For now, passengers will apparently just have to hold their noses. And the FAA will have to keep its eye on cabin air.

["8 Things an Airline Would Never Tell You"]

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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