The Germiest Spots on Airplanes Exposed: Why Planes are Extremely Gross Right Now
On a recent flight from Cancún to Orlando, one traveler discovered the dirty truth about the cleanliness of airplanes. It turns out that planes are far from sanitary, with germs lurking on nearly every surface.
Using a germ-detection device, the traveler swabbed various high-touch points in the plane’s main cabin and lavatories. The results were shocking – nine out of ten tested areas failed the cleanliness test. The traveler was essentially sitting in a pool of germs for the duration of the flight.
The lack of cleanliness on planes can be attributed to the fact that airplane cleaning practices are not federally regulated or standardized. While the Federal Aviation Administration does not dictate cleaning protocols, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidance on how to clean contaminated areas and prevent the spread of disease. However, these guidelines mainly focus on urgent situations and do not cover non-urgent scenarios, such as a passenger sneezing on a seat or spilling food.
Each passenger airline is responsible for developing their own sanitation procedures. Delta Air Lines, for example, has dedicated resources to improving cleanliness on their flights. They have “clean ambassadors” who remove trash, disinfect surfaces, and restock lavatories on flights grounded for four hours or less. Their planes also undergo a deep cleaning overnight, using 12,500 gallons of disinfectant this summer alone.
Other carriers, like American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have similar cleaning regimens in place. American Airlines disinfects high-traffic areas throughout the day and focuses on common touchpoints at night. Southwest Airlines cleans and washes their planes inside and out, periodically replacing seat covers and aisle rugs.
Despite these efforts, planes remain a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. This is a significant concern, as air travel-related outbreaks have been reported in the past, including tuberculosis, SARS, flu, norovirus, measles, and coronavirus.
To lower the risk of infection while flying, experts recommend practicing good hand hygiene. Passengers should use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not easily accessible, and antibacterial wipes can be used to clean surfaces. Wearing masks can also help protect against respiratory viruses.
While this particular experiment was not scientific and should be taken with a grain of salt, it does shed light on the need for improved cleaning practices on airplanes. Passengers should be aware of the germiest areas on planes, such as tray tables and bathroom sink handles, and take precautions to minimize their exposure to germs while traveling.