Germs on a Plane: Top 12 Dirtiest Secrets on Board

How will air travel look after COVID-19 pandemic? One thing is certain that hand hygiene sanitization and surface disinfecting will be taking very serious. Aviation marketing consultancy SimpliFlying recently published a report which offers some answers to that question. Their view into the future of flying is a highly sanitized one. Let's take a look at the Top 10 dirtiest hotspots onboard a plane. 


Tray Tables

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Tray TableMost people assume the lavatory (bathroom) is the dirtiest hotspot on the plane, right? Wrong. Here’s the catch: airline staff are aware of this as a high-traffic area of germs and therefore make a conscious effort to always keep the lavatories as squeaky clean as possible. One area which receives minimal attention in comparison is the seatback tray table (you know, the one that you put your food on!). A study by TravelMath indicates that these tray tables carry eight times more germs than the toilet flush levers.


Air Vents

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Air VentsSince each passenger prefers a different rate of airflow, there is constant contact with air vents several times during the flight. After walking through the airport, touching everything from door handles to water fountains, people often reach for the air vent upon first arriving at their seat to cool down. While the air vent can be dirty where your hand touches the nozzle, it's not a bad idea to have some fresh air blowing as it can help keep some of the germs away in the otherwise stifling cabin.



FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - HeadrestUnless you plan on leaning forward the entire flight, the headrest is an unavoidable contact surface. Aisle seat headrests in particular are extra dirty. Think about how many people walking up and down the aisle place their hands to each headrest to maintain their balance. Of course, you should also be wary of resting your head on the window seat sidewall as well.


Blankets & Pillows

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Blankets & PillowsFree isn't always good. Those blankets and pillows? Yeah, those just get refolded and stuffed back in the bins between flights. According to active flight attendant and HuffPost blogger Sara Keagle, this dirty little secret is indeed true, at least partially. As she revealed to HuffPost, freshly washed blankets are only supplied to the first flights of the day. On subsequent flights, the blankets are re-folded and re-used.


Entertainment Displays 

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Entertainment DisplaysNot all planes are equipped with the luxury of in-flight entertainment unless you’re flying internationally. With endless films, TV shows, music and games available literally at our fingertips, it’s literally a TOUCHscreen. According to Elliot Hester at the LA Times, The seat-back touch screen — on which countless folks have hunted and pecked with greasy, lip-licked fingertips — can make in-flight video entertainment as unsanitary as the self-service screen you may have used to check in at the airport.


Overhead Bins 

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Overhead BinsAs passengers board the airplane, the first hotspot touchpoint is the overhead bins to place their carry on luggage. Those overhead bins are often manhandled but never disinfected. This was confirmed in a report by USA Today that revealed the overhead bins and handles are almost never cleaned.


Window Blinds

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Window BlindsAvoiding germs might be easier to avoid with a window seat. One study found that people sitting on the aisle are more likely to contract norovirus, according to TIME. You’re not completed clear however, According to new research from Auburn University, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses can live on window shades.


Seat Pockets

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Seat PocketsSeatback pockets should be dubbed as personal trash cans. While some might use them to store magazines, books and other small items, other people stash their trash, chewed gum, used tissues, filled air sickness bags and even dirty diapers. The Auburn University researchers found MRSA could survive in the seat pocket material for up to 168 hours.



FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - ArmrestsIt can feel like you’re fighting for elbow room like the lyrics from Ludacris “throw them bows” song. It is inevitably that at some point you will rub elbows with your neighbor no matter which seat you’re in. According to a study by Auburn University, bacteria can live on a rubber armrest for up to 96 hours. That’s four days worth of passenger germs and residue waiting for you to lean on.


Seat Belts

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Seat BeltsWhen you get in the driver's seat of your car you probably don't think twice about the germs on the seatbelt. Now picture hundreds of thousands of people going in and out of your drivers seat bucking up. Gross right? A study by Insurance Quotes indicates that airplane seat belt buckles have 1,116 cfu.


Lavatory Door Latches

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Lavatory Door LatchesIt’s hard enough to use the tiny bathrooms on an airplane let alone wash your hands when you're done. Dr. Charles Gerba, microbiologist at the University of Arizona, tells TIME that “It’s hard to beat the restroom,” in terms of germiness, Gerba says, “because the water shuts off so people can’t complete hand washing.” The sinks are so small, he adds, that people with large hands can’t even fit them fully underneath the faucets. So most people leave the bathroom, touching the door latch without clean hands on the way in and way out.


Lavatory Flush Buttons

FLYGIENE - Germs on a Plane - Lavatory Flush ButtonsAfter you finish, you flush right? Well think about the thousands of people that did the same before you. Also when the toilet is flush, thousands of tiny particles shoot up in the air landing on the surrounding area. A study by Insurance Quotes found that lavatory flush buttons were the dirtiest, with an average of 95,145 CFU, while a kitchen countertop had an average 361 CFU.


You should treat an airplane like any public place. Practicing good hygiene habits can limit your exposure to germs. There are plenty of hand sanitizers and disinfectants on the market however one company focuses on this problem for travelers. Inspired by air travel, FLYGIENE has you cleared for takeoff. From our Nourishing Hand Sanitizer with aloe vera and our Air & Surface Disinfectant Travel Spray are perfect for on the go use to protect you and your family from germs and bacteria. TSA Approved pocket-sized bottles are perfect for planes, trains, buses, cruise ships and many other forms of travel. It's also great for use in other high-traffic areas such as public restrooms, hotel rooms, Airbnb stays, waiting rooms, and home use. Easy to stow away for on the go travel fits easily in any purse, pocket, or backpack. At work, restaurants, hotels or almost anywhere life takes you.

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