Planes and airports are notoriously germy places. In fact, one of the secrets airlines don’t want you to know is that staff members clean tray tables, blankets, and pillows only infrequently. Plus, the pressurized air in the cabin dries out the mucous membranes in your body that fight germs. Is your seatmate coughing? Thanks to the dry air, you’re extra susceptible to the effects of those germs. And think of all the things you touch when you get on the plane. There’s the overhead bin, arm rest, window shade, and probably the tray table. And don’t forget about the bathroom fixtures. Each one is covered in germs and microbes that might make you sick each time you fly.
It’s not just the plane that you should worry about. In addition to the germy surfaces on the plane, you run into plenty of bacteria-infested places and objects in the airport. According to Travelmath, airports and airplanes are dirtier than even the germiest places in your home. Want to know which places on the plane or in the airport are the worst? We’ll tell you. But we can’t promise you won’t want to fill your entire quart-sized plastic bag with hand sanitizer.
1. Tray table
To find out how dirty airplanes and airports really are, Travelmath sent a microbiologist to take samples from five airports and four flights. The samples then went to a lab, where staff estimated the total bacteria population per square inch. The results? The tray table has the highest number of colony-forming units per square inch at 2,155.
Drexel Medicine explains people use tray tables “inappropriately.” People stick gum to them or use them to change a baby’s diaper. Doesn’t sound like an appealing place to eat a snack or rest your book, does it?