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Jill Stone

Your Meeting Matchmaker Fairy Godmother

Are Airplanes Flying Germ Factories?

in: Meeting Planning Experience Site Selection Travel and Hospitality

I do not want to come off as a germaphobe, but as a person who travels often I have learned a few things along the way – and not all of them are pretty. The fact is that airplanes are not exactly the cleanest places to hang out, but with just a bit of a heads up and some easy to carry supplies, you will be right as rain and not experience any ill fall outs after the flight.

Let’s start with the water. Airplane water has been under review by the EPA for traces of E. coli for a number of years. The lesson here is to stick with bottled water and do not drink anything made with the airline’s “potable” water, like the coffee for example (the water does not get hot enough to kill off the E. coli).

Now onto to tray tables. In “Things Flight Attendants Wish Passengers Knew,” blogger Dimo Dimilo reveals that some parents change their infant’s diapers right on the tray table and no, the tray tables are not always sanitized between flights. My guess is that there are some other rather rotten uses of the tray tables as well. Carry some individually wrapped travel wipes with you to use for cleaning such surfaces.

I am also a bit leery of seat pockets. I am not sure what other people have stored here (used napkins, snotty tissues, food packages) before I got on board. Also, I’m pretty sure that these areas too are not sanitized in between flights. So my advice to you is to forego using the seat pockets and to instead have a small carry on for anything you may need easy access to during the flight.

Airplane food does not have the best reputation as it is. Then back in 2009, FDA inspections of the Denver location of LSG Sky Chefs,  the world’s largest airplane caterer, found many unsightly and unsanitary conditions in their kitchens. Roaches – enough said. Eat before your flight,  or even better make your own snacks to bring along.

Pillows and blankets may be great for comfort, but not if you are snoozing in germs. Again I turn to Dimo Dimilo’s blog (see above). According to Dimo, blankets are usually changed in between flights, but not pillows. If you are in for a long flight, bring along your own. Or use the pillows for lumbar support only. Consider also wearing a long soft sweater that can double as a blanket.

The Airplane Lavatory is a germ-fest.  It’s a small space with lots of moisture; the perfect breeding ground for various and sundry germs. Plus, that forceful airplane toilet flush is not your friend; it aids in the spreading of yuck. Carry a small supply of tissues with you and use to open/close the toilet lid and the lavatory door.  Now, I rarely suggest this – but do not wash your hands (see water above); instead use a hand sanitizer. My suggestion is one that contains natural essential oils like Thieves Hand Sanitizer, available online and at health food stores.

Happy Germ-Free Travels to you!

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