Five germiest places on planes

Catching a commercial flight soon? Make sure you read this first.

Five germiest places on planes

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. If she had one superpower, it would be teleportation – the ultimate cure for her fear of flying.

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



    To make a comment, please register or login
    17th Sep 2016
    17th Sep 2016
    And what about the headphones- used time and again and in Australia they are in the most part purely repacked and sent out again, some are done within the prison system and there is no sanitation or sterilisation - just replace any ear pads and reroll and package. Oh dear who has used them before me?
    casper dude
    17th Sep 2016
    Wouldn't you think airlines would be more thorough in their cleaning. Every time would be impossible with the quick turnaround, but at least once every few flights. We take wipes and hand sanitisers but after reading this, will be more thorough. It also applies in all public places, handrails, trains, shopping trollies, the list is endless.
    17th Sep 2016
    Do not use the antibacterial (kills 99.9% of germs) wipes. they will make you far sicker. better to use none or just a damp tissue.
    Margaret Thompson
    6th Mar 2017
    Armrests are particularly germy, as well. Best to wipe down armrests, tray table, and the seat pocket on entry to the plane.

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