The Best Face Masks for Flying, According to Experts
Face masks aren't going anywhere just yet—especially while traveling. All major U.S. airlines currently require face masks for travelers ages two and up, even if they're fully vaccinated—falling in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s updated guidance that fully vaccinated people continue to mask up indoors as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread. If you have plans to travel, it's important to take proper precautions to minimize your risk of getting infected, and one crucial thing you can do is wear a mask that keeps you as protected as possible.
The best face masks for flying on a plane, according to doctor guidelines:
- Best Rated: SupplyAID KN95 Face Mask
- Best Secure Fit: Maxboost NIOSH-Approved N95 Mask
- Most Breathable: Kimberly-Clark N95 Pouch Respirator
- Best for Long Wear: ApePal 5-Layer Disposable KN95 Face Masks
- Most Comfortable: WWDoll KN95 Face Mask
- Most Color Options: Maskc Blush Tones Variety Face Masks
- Best for Smaller Faces: Boncare KN95 Face Mask
The best mask for flying on a plane, according to allergist and immunologist Purvi Parikh, MD, of the Allergy & Asthma Network, depends on your risk factors. Lower-risk individuals (vaccinated people who aren't immunocompromised) can double mask with a cloth mask and a surgical mask. But if you're at a higher risk—or just want to be as careful as possible— she says it's worth investing in an N95 mask or KN95 mask.
The N95s, Dr. Parikh says, tend to be less comfortable, so they may not be best for long flights, while KN95s are typically a more comfortable option with a similar level of protection. The latter are made of "multiple layers of material that block 95 percent of 0.3 micron particles," Julie Chen, MD, an integrative medicine physician who is board-certified in internal medicine, previously explained to Health. "Coronavirus is even smaller, at 0.1 microns, but are typically bound to something larger (like droplets), so it's purported to be 95 percent protective."
Ultimately, Dr. Parikh says that "any mask is better than no mask, but remember that the fit is also key. Make sure your mask has a tight seal around your nose and mouth."
Dr. Parikh also recommends disposable masks over reusable options because they are easy to discard after each use—thus ensuring you're always wearing a clean mask. "They do become dirty over time and can irritate skin and cause breakouts," she says. "Usually, disposable masks are also medical grade, so they offer good protection."
It's important to keep your mask on throughout your flight, but if you need to take it off briefly to eat or drink, that is fine; Dr. Parikh recommends putting it back on between sips or bites. "The less time it is off, the better," she adds.
Below, shop the best protective face masks for flying on a plane, according to expert guidance, so you can stay safe and protected on your journey.
Best Rated: SupplyAID KN95 Face Mask
With over 48,000 five-star ratings, SupplyAID's KN95 masks are one of the best-rated protective face masks on Amazon. They also come at a great price: You can currently get a five-pack of white masks for just $9, or less than $2 a mask. Reviewers say these coverings hold up to hours of travel: "The masks were comfortable to wear for a 10 hour commute on planes, trains and buses, even with a second mask on top." Another shopper added that they don't get "unwearable or uncomfortable," even in high humidity environments.
Best Secure Fit: Maxboost NIOSH-Approved N95 Mask
The double head strap of this N95 mask makes it extremely secure; shoppers say it has an " not smothering" context="body"]." When buying an N95 mask, it's important to follow CDC guidelines to ensure you're not purchasing a counterfeit option by checking that it's approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and includes an approval number that begins with "TC." This mask also features a foam nose padding, which results in "little to no fog for glasses."
Most Breathable: Kimberly-Clark N95 Pouch Respirator
The pouch style of this NIOSH-approved N95 mask makes it easy to breathe in since it holds the mask further away from the nose and mouth (while still creating a seal around them). "This 'duckbill' or 'pouch' N95 mask is a simple, brilliant design that folds flat," wrote one Amazon reviewer. "It conforms smoothly to the face, and the fabric feels soft. The bridge-of-nose wire is actually two parallel wires and molds well to the nose slope, preventing fog on eyeglasses." Another shopper said this option was so easy to breathe in that they could wear it comfortably all day. With nearly 2,700 five-star ratings, it's another great option for traveling.
Best for Long Wear: ApePal 5-Layer Disposable KN95 Face Masks
Several reviewers of ApePal's KN95 masks recommend them for travel. With five layers of protection, the mask gives users peace of mind, while the comfortable fit makes it easy to breathe, even on long trips. "We bought this face mask to wear while flying," one shopper wrote. "We just spent 12 hours in and out of airports flying to our destination. I felt protected by this mask and could breathe." A healthcare worker who gave this makes a five-star rating also said it's their go-to for protection outside of work.
Most Comfortable: WWDoll KN95 Face Mask
If you want to make sure you have a large stock of masks, this 50-pack of KN95s from WWDoll will provide you with plenty of inventory. Another highly rated pick with more than 3,800 five-star Amazon ratings, its design is similar to other KN95s, but reviewers say this design in particular is exceptionally comfortable. "I have purchased KN95s from several different manufacturers/vendors, and these are the most comfortable, breathable, and well-fitting that I have yet to use," one shopper wrote. "Loops are soft and a smidgen longer than most, so it is snug but not uncomfortably tight like the others. Also, because of the thickness, I was surprised with how easy it was to breathe through them."
Most Color Options: Maskc Blush Tones Variety Face Masks
Staying safe doesn't mean you have to give up fun, colorful masks—Maskc sells a variety of colored KN95 masks that provide top-of-the-line protection while also looking cute. Reviewers are impressed by how comfortable they are. "Great fit, nice ear bands, the colors are fun and I definitely feel safe wearing them," one customer wrote. "The metal nose strip is malleable but strong, I don't get glasses fog, AT ALL. Everytime I wear one, which is everyday, I get asked where I bought them." Shoppers also say they're easy to breathe in.
Best for Smaller Faces: Boncare KN95 Face Mask
With over 7,000 five-star ratings, this option is one of Amazon's best-selling KN95 masks; many reviewers even consider it their favorite of all the masks they've tried. Unlike N95 masks, this one features ear loops, though wearers say the loops are so comfortable, they "forget they're there." While the mask is sized to fit both men and women, several users with smaller faces have found that Boncare's KN95 is especially suited to their needs. "I've got a really small face, but very full cheeks, and most masks are either too loose on my face, or sit really awkwardly and uncomfortably," wrote one. "These don't cause any issue, and are very comfortable! I keep recommending them to people who find their masks to be uncomfy because these are breathable, not rough on skin, and the loops are super stretchy—perfect for anyone's face shape or size!"