SAS A320neo cabin.
SAS A320neo cabin.

Photo: Karl Nordlund


HEPA-filters for clean air onboard

Traveling by flight is one of the cleanest and safest means of transportation – a lot of that thanks to advanced high-efficient filters that clean the air. In fact, the air onboard is exchanged as fast as the air in most hospitals. This is how they work.

This piece is part of a series of articles about SAS Safe Travel. You can read more about everything we do to ensure your safe journey on this page: SAS Safe Travel

High-efficient filters, or so called HEPA filters, are used to clean the air onboard. The SAS fleet is one of the most modern and fuel-efficient in Europe, both the new Airbus and Boeing aircraft being equipped with HEPA filters. With similar performance to those used in hospitals and operation rooms, the filters are proven to remove 99,993% of bacteria and virus from the air. The risk of transmission within aircraft cabins is therefore highly unlikely.

A recent study conducted by IATA (International Air Transport Association) and the aviation industry indicates very little evidence of onboard transmission: Only one case of possible flight associated spread was identified for every 27,3 million passengers. Compared to other means of transport, the air onboard an aircraft is cleaned more efficiently. With the quality of the air and the conditions onboard, along with the use of a facemask the risk of transmission is extremely low.


  • The air in our aircraft is renewed every 2-3 minutes (whilst in hospitals about every 10 minutes and in offices about every 20 minutes).
  • There is a constant injection of fresh air into the cabin.
  • HEPA filters remove more than 99,9% of particles in the air
  • Optimized top-to-bottom air flows limit air moving between rows
The air is renewed in the cabin every 2-3 minutes, removing 99.993% of bacteria and virus from the air.
The air is renewed in the cabin every 2-3 minutes, removing 99.993% of bacteria and virus from the air.

In addition to the clean air, the cabin environment makes the transmission of viruses difficult since all passengers face the same direction and the seatbacks act as barriers. For extra safety, all our passengers wear face masks and the cabin is thoroughly cleaned between each flight. Read more about the low risk of transmission onboard here.

In short, the cabin air is clean and passengers can be confidently share cabin space safely with others. Read more on IATA's website about the cabin air quality here.

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