Airplane Cleanliness– The Down & Dirty

 In News, Travel


Since it’s now the height of the flu season we thought it appropriate to delve into just how dirty that airplane seat you’re sitting in really is and provide some easy tips to try to avoid getting sick while jetting about this winter. While airlines are notorious for allowing for the potential of infectious diseases spreading (think Ebola most recently) they do try to sanitize regularly. The problem lies with the fact that thousands of passengers occupy a single plane in a week.  In addition, the plane’s air is being recirculated instead of being flushed out for fresh air, allowing airborne and surface germs at the opportunity to multiply and spread.

The aircraft cabin air itself shouldn’t be your top concern because most airplanes do use a HEPA filter to clean the air. This isn’t a foolproof way to eliminate traveling germs, particularly the heartier versions, but it does help reduce them. The real culprit, and what makes most passengers sick, is the chair upholstery which is rarely wiped down and sanitized, the tray tables, the armrests and the toilet handle.  Although rare, bacteria such as MRSA and E. coli can live for up to a week on planes that aren’t properly cleaned!

How often and how well an aircraft is actually cleaned is not well known. Removing trash and old magazines is one thing, but most industry watchers say that a proper cleaning doesn’t occur that often. The FAA doesn’t regulate or inspect aircraft cleaning, so frequency and thoroughness are left up to the airlines themselves. Gobbels of MedJet Assist says that as a rule of thumb, an aircraft is supposed to be completely wiped down after every 30 days of service or 100 flying-hours. This means that an aircraft can be used for dozens of flights between deep cleanings. That adds up to a lot of potentially harmful germs lurking in every seat.

There are multiple steps that every traveler can take to prevent the spread of bacteria when flying. First, you should travel with, and use, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. In addition, you should also travel with a small pack of disinfectant wipes. The first thing you should do when you sit down is to wipe down the armrest and tray table because that’s where your arms will be. You need to decontaminate where you’ll be spending your time and eating. Try to avoid touching your face during flights until after you’re off the plan and have sanitized them again thoroughly. The most vulnerable area may well be your eyes, and medical professionals advise not going anywhere near them with your hands, as tear ducts are a fast route for germs to the nose and throat. Staying hydrated also helps by making it easier for your body to flush out potentially dangerous bacteria and germs. So does using a tissue or a paper towel to open bathroom doorknobs and touch toilet handles.

Stay safe and healthy this winter and enjoy your travels here and abroad! Think of SMART Cars as your ‘sani-safe’ chauffeured ground transportation go-to company for black car services and limousine services here and abroad. We take special care to sanitize and clean our vehicles daily so you’ll be sure to never pick up a bug on our watch. Book your ride today by calling toll free 800-871-7627.


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