Internet Defends Couple Wearing Hazmat-Type Suits on Flight: 'No Joke'

An image of two passengers who appeared to be covered in extensive protective suits on a flight has gone viral on Reddit, where it received 80,400 upvotes at the time of writing.

In a post captioned "this couple on my flight the other day," Reddit user anthnyshark shared an image of the two passengers, who appeared to be wearing face shields and hazmat-type suits (which aim to provide protection against hazardous materials) while seated on the flight.

Several condemned the original poster for snapping the picture, including Aitch-Kay who wrote: "Who gives s**t why they are wearing what they are wearing. They aren't hurting or inconveniencing anyone, so people need to mind their own goddamn business," in a comment that got 195 upvotes.

LurkingArachnid replied: "Right? I mean can you imagine you have cancer and you see some a**hole taking a picture of you. And then putting it on the internet..."

In a later comment, anthnyshark explained that he "never said it was a bad thing. i completely understand their precautions and reasons for this, covid and illness is no joke. them doing this doesn't matter to me, they can choose to do what they want to do. just thought it was different, mood looked cool, and reddit might like to see it..."

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—which has seen more than 551 million infected and over 6.3 million die globally, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins— several travelers continue to take safety measures, such as wearing protective equipment, in a bid to reduce their risk of infection as well as prevent the spread of infection during their travels.

According to a study published in May 2022 by the peer-reviewed International Journal of Infectious Diseases: "COVID-19 may be transmitted during a passenger flight, although there is still no direct evidence."

The study, which observed three international flights to Lanzhou, China, from June 1, 2020, to August 1, 2020, which carried a total of 700 passengers, showed that most confirmed cases of COVID-19 were passengers seated in the middle rows of economy class.

Those seated in the two rows in front of a confirmed case were "at a higher risk of being infected," the study said.

A December 2021 study published by the peer-reviewed Annals of Medicine concluded that: "The universal use of face masks on the flight, together with the plane's ventilation system, significantly decreased the infectivity of COVID-19 on an aircraft."

However, the "risk of infection in aircraft was negligible," according to the study's findings.

Several Redditors came to the defense of the two passengers captured in the latest Reddit post, with some saying they may have health reasons for taking such protective measures.

In a comment that got 17,600 upvotes, user atrophiedambitions said, "One of them might have received an organ transplant," explaining that such patients may be taking immunosuppressants, which can "prevent the vaccines from being as effective in some people while suppressing immune function to prevent organ rejection."

The same user added it "also could be a host of auto-immune/cancer issues that cause the extra precaution..."

According to a study first published in February 2022 by the peer-reviewed Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, "the mRNA-1273 [Moderna] and BNT162b2 [Pfizer] vaccines are effective in individuals who take immunosuppressants.

"However, individuals who are vaccinated but on immunosuppressants are still at higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 hospitalization than the broader vaccinated population," the study said.

In a comment that got 5,500 upvotes, user lit_geek shared that their friend with leukemia also "looked like this" while traveling on a flight from California to participate in a trial for a new chemotherapy drug.

User just_some_dude05 said: "Recently I traveled and did contract Covid for the first time. With my neurological condition it has been terrible thus far. I haven't been hospitalized yet, thank God, but if it is true you can catch the new strain multiple times I will look similar to these folks if I have to fly again..." in a comment that got 1,500 upvotes.

YahooFantasyCareless said: "...Please don't be embarrassed to wear your ppe [personal protective equipment]. Don't let others' judgements dictate your health and safety. They don't give a crap about you or your safety, or else they'd be wearing a mask. So don't even worry about them! Stay safe out there."

A person in hazmat suit on plane.
A person wearing a full-body hazmat suit is seen in an empty plane. iStock/Getty Images Plus