The spread of Meningitis, Tuberculosis, Measles and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome are health issues that you would ordinarily associate with an underdeveloped country. Well think again. With more then a billion people traveling by air each year all of these afflictions can be yours, all you need is a valid boarding pass. Add to this list malfunctioning defibrillators, life threatening blood clots, ruptured ear drums, empty oxygen tanks and kosher meals prepared by gentile deli's and you will understand why I have developed an acute fear of getting sick on a plane.
Whenever I am planning to travel by air the first thing I do is to use my contacts at area medical centers and the Air Pilots Association to secure the latest medical records and psychological profiles of the cockpit crew and once seated in the aircraft I always ask to meet the pilot so that I can gauge his fitness to be in command of the plane. Did he have a fight with his wife last night, has he consumed any alcohol in the past hour and if so will he submit to a breathalyzer test, what did he have for breakfast, as a kid was he any good at building model airplanes, does he fantasize about being John Wayne in "The High and The Mighty" and how many times has he seen "Snakes On A Plane" Make a good impression and you might be invited to sit in the cockpit where pilots get ten times more oxygen than passengers.
Through trial and error I have discovered that the place with the most germs is the on-board lavatory. Never touch the door handle, the latch, the faucets or the toilet. In order to avoid contact I always travel with several pairs of latex gloves. What you don't use you can sell to your envious fellow passengers in the first class cabin and turn a nice profit. Another major source of germs is the tray table and therefore it's a good idea to keep your tray table in its upright and locked position for the entire flight. I always bring my own food and placemat to put it on. If you are unable to bring your own food you can always travel with a professional food taster, who get paid by the mile, or if that becomes a budget consideration follow the lead of the Beijing Olympics Committee and bring along a couple of white laboratory mice. Remember that a safe alternative is to always order what the captain is having.
A couple of do's and don'ts. Stay hydrated by drinking large quantities of bottled water. Avoid tap water, ice cubes and empty bottles of mineral water that have been ingeniously re-filled by devious flight attendants with bacteria laden water from the lavatory. Do not accept a barf bag, pillow or blanket, bring your own. Smart buyers know that there are now re-useable air sickness bags on the market, some with clever advertising on them. Wash your hands at every opportunity and never use one of those awful scented wash and dry handouts unless of course you want to have your tattoo's removed. Remember that airlines mix re-circulated air with fresh air using a filtration system that is usually ineffective. So use your time on the ground to practice holding your breath for increasingly long periods and before you know it you will not have to breathe at all on flights of less than an hour. One more hint. Do not reach for the free peanuts unless you are certain that you do not suffer from a peanut allergy which can be fatal. If you are uncertain ask to be seated in a peanut free row.