5 best face masks for traveling on long flights, by experts

It has been more than two years since the coronavirus pandemic turned our world upside down. While the Omicron strain certainly threw everyone into a tailspin in December 2021, people created social barriers based on their comfort level. Traveling, for example, was extremely difficult at the start of the pandemic. However, these days it’s relatively easy to do if you do it right and keep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in mind.

Although it is no longer mandatory to wear masks in most public places and most major airlines dropped mask mandates in April 2022, many travelers still prefer to take extra precautions for their health.

To help you travel comfortably and safely, The Post spoke with Dr. Karen Jubanyik, associate professor of emergency medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.

« Overall, the best mask to wear on a long flight is one that you can put on, not touch, and leave on for the entire flight, » Jubanyik said. “You can test different masks before your travel day to make sure you can wear it for an extended period of time. Try jogging as if running to catch a short connection [or wearing] inside for a few hours.

N95 and KN95 masks

Jubanyik recommends KN95 and N95 masks for travelers, especially if they are not fully vaccinated, immunocompromised (meaning the vaccination might not be as effective), or in close contact with someone who is.

Fortunately, WellBefore – a marketplace that sells medical products at affordable prices – has plenty of reliable and effective N95 and KN95 masks.

Note: The disadvantage of N95 and KN95 masks is that they can be itchy, cause rashes (like maskne) and have reduced breathability when wearing them, especially if you are running to catch a flight. Facial hair can also make it difficult to fit these masks.

1. WellBefore N95 – NIOSH Approved Mask, $1.39 each

Long before

Jubanyik recommends travelers wear a properly fitted NIOSH-compliant N95 disposable respirator if they are on a long flight. “They offer the best protection and come in one-size-fits-all designs, which means one size fits (almost) everyone. However, other N95 masks come in sizes, and these should be tested for the individual, and an ill-fitting N95 is less protection than the other options.

2. WellBefore KN95 Individually Wrapped Mask, $1.04 each

WellBefore KN95 Individually Wrapped Mask

Jubanyik also mentioned KN95 masks but stressed the importance of making sure the one you pick up is from a reputable retailer.

Double masking while traveling

Suppose you are not fully vaccinated or immunocompromised and do not want to wear an N95 or KN95 mask, but want to prevent yourself from contracting COVID-19 while traveling. In this case, Jubanyik recommends that you consider double masking with a surgical mask and a cloth mask.

“(Disposable) surgical masks need to fit well; using the bendable nose piece and tying a knot at the ear loops allows it to be adjusted close to the face. Surgical masks should be discarded and replaced if they get wet,” Jubanyik said.

« The best masks are made up of multiple layers and can be tested by holding the light to see how much light shines through, » Jubanyik explained. “Cloth masks to be worn over surgical masks should also be adjustable, comfortable and multi-layered. If you wear glasses and your glasses fog up, this indicates that your mask(s) do not fit well on your nose.

Reusable masks

Alternatively, if you are fully vaccinated and at low risk, you can also choose to wear a single mask when traveling.

« The mask should be snug and multi-layered or include the ability to add a filter, » Jubanyik said.

« Do not wear gaiters, as they have been shown to provide inadequate protection for you and others around you, as the fit is generally not adequate and the material is often too thin to provide sufficient protection to prevent virus particles from escaping, » Jubanyik said. “Also, do not wear a mask with an exhalation valve or vent. A good cloth mask has a wire over the nose and adjustable ear cups.

Ahead, find Jubanyik’s favorite reusable masks for travel and extended wear.

1. Under Armor Sport Mask, $25

Under Armor sports mask

Jubanyik likes this Under Armor goggle for those with a small or extra large face as it comes in five different sizes, ranging from extra small to extra extra large.

« It was designed for exercise, has some water resistance, is three-layered, and doesn’t sit all over the face (but should fit snugly around the sides), » Jubanyik said. « This [also] has a nose wire and earrings.

2. Pack of five Athleta Everyday non-medical face masks, $10, original price: $25

Pack of five Athleta Everyday non-medical masks

“Athleta’s masks come in great color packs and match their sportswear. The material is very breathable, the soft knit ear loops are adjustable [and] they have a nose wire and pleated fabric to allow for adjustments for larger and smaller faces,” Jubanyik said. « They also make a children’s version. »

3. FIGS FIONx Woven Adjustable Mask, $8

FIGS FIONx Woven Adjustable Mask

Figs, who make high quality scrub uniforms, also make great masks that match their scrubs and are great for traveling.

« This particular model is made of machine-washable woven fabric, with a soft interior lining and a slot for replaceable filters, » Jubanyik said. « They are really comfortable and allow for easy breathability. »

For more recommendations, check out the Shopping section of the New York Post.


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