Five germiest places on planes


A recent study has confirmed what we all probably knew but didn’t want to hear – airplanes are some of the grimiest places around. Considering the number of people who pass through commercial flights, and how closely they’re wedged together, the results of Drexel Medicine’s report should come as no surprise.

However, we’re not suggesting you avoid flying altogether, but this list may help you to minimise your exposure to germs. Here are the five places to avoid on your next flight:

1. Seat pockets
Many passengers use the seat-back pockets as makeshift rubbish bins, filling them with everything from food waste, discarded gum and snotty tissues, to nail trimmings and, worst of all, sick bags. Avoid using seat pockets to store your possessions – instead, keep them in your bag under your seat or, if they are small enough, in your pockets.


plane seat pocket


2. Tray tables
They may be slightly harder to avoid, but tray tables are rife with bacteria. Flight attendants have even reported seeing passengers use them to change baby nappies. Always carry disinfectant wipes and clean tray tables before use. And if you drop food onto one, discard it – you can never be quite certain what else you are picking up.


plane seat tray


3. Toilets
No surprises here. With roughly one toilet for every 50 passengers, plane bathrooms breeding grounds for bacteria, such as e.coli. Clean the seat with your disinfectant wipes and use paper towel to create a barrier between yourself and anything you touch directly. Also, always flush the toilet with the lid down to prevent splash back.


dirty toilet on a plane


4. Blankets and pillows
Before you settle in and snuggle up, consider how many drowsy and drooling passengers have done so before you. Blankets and pillows are usually recycled so your best bet is to bring your own – they’ll probably be more comfortable and will definitely be more hygienic!


seat and pillow on a passenger plane


5. Touchscreens
In-flight technology is a wonderful development, but touchscreens are yet another breeding ground for germs – particularly when you think about where everyone else’s fingers may have been beforehand. You can try to avoid them by taking your own books, magazines or devices for entertainment, but if you do use them, be liberal with the sanitiser. Whatever you do, be sure not to touch your face directly after using touchscreens.


plane seat touchscreen


How do you make sure you stay healthy when you travel? Make sure you share this article with loved ones – particularly if they have children.

Read more at Drexel Medicine

Related articles:
Coffee on a plane? Not after this
How to be a good plane pal
How to enjoy a long-haul flight

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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