Ick! These are the Dirtiest Places on a Plane2 min read
Air travel is exciting – you’re soaring through the air, thousands of miles above the land heading to a faraway place to eat, laugh, learn, experience new things and have fun. On the other hand, air travel is also linked getting sick—one surefire way to test your immune system is to step foot on a plane.
Airplanes, like any other form of public transportation, are filled with germs. That’s what happens when you cram a bunch of people into a tight space for a few hours, especially when that space has limited and recirculated air flow. Plus, it doesn’t help that everyone passes through the airport, which is another breeding ground for germs with the non-stop stream of people.
The problem with the germs on the airplane is that since you’re confined to a small space, you’re more than likely touching shared surfaces, spreading your germs and picking up germs left behind by others. However, if you know where the germs are, you may be more likely to avoid coming in contact with them.
Travelmath conducted a study to find out just how dirty and germy airplanes are by sending a microbiologist to take samples. Of course, the primary conclusion of the study was that airports and planes are dirtier than your home.
However, there’s one surface in planes that was dirtier than the rest that is quite alarming: the tray table – the surface that food and drinks rest on. The reason this is problematic is because this could provide direct transmission of bacteria to your mouth.
The other dirtiest surfaces on a plane include:
- Overhead air vents
- Lavatory flush buttons
- Seatbelt buckles
The study attributed the excessive germs on the tray tables to the fact that airline staff have little turnaround time between flights to actually give seats a proper scrub down until the end of their day. Airplane bathrooms are cleaned much more frequently.
When it comes to using your tray table, the best way to avoid those germs is to eliminate any direct contact your food has with it. You can also bring disinfecting wipes to scrub down the surface of your tray table (as well as your air vent and seatbelt buckle). This simple fix should do the trick, but you still shouldn’t eat directly off of the tray table and should avoid as much contact with it as possible.
You can also bring along a 1-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer in your quart-size bag of liquids in your carry on to use periodically throughout your flight, especially after using the plane’s bathroom.
And beware before you get on the plane! The study also found that in airports the dirtiest surfaces are the buttons on drinking fountains and the locks on bathroom stalls.
Photo from Woman’s Day.