How Dirty Are Airplanes?
The answer to this question might gross you out a little. They are usually much dirtier than they look. Airplanes are already known as metal tubes filled with circulating air – and germs. However, not all of the germs and other microbial invaders are found in the air. They are also all over the seats, the floors, the seatback trays, and everywhere else that you look.
Time on the Ground Matters
Before you begin berating the airlines about poor hygienic standards, you need to consider the fact that there often isn’t time for the plane to be deep-cleaned. The time between a plane landing and then getting boarded again is often as short at 30 minutes. That’s does leave much time for the cleaning crew to jump in and deep clean its interior. Instead, they usually clean off the trays, get rid of crumbs, make the bathrooms and other spaces look clean, and perhaps run a vacuum. That’s it. If there’s more time, then the seatback pockets are emptied, and more is done.
It Also Depends On Which Section you’re in
If you’re one of those people who are lucky enough to sit in first or business class, then your seat and the area around it is much, much cleaner. Why? Because those upgraded spaces are the first to get cleaned. The seats and armrests might even be wiped down properly. However, if you’re sitting in coach, be prepared to be exposed to potential bacteria on the armrests, seats, windows, and other places. The main messes won’t be there, but the invisible stuff that they left behind will.
The Time of Your Flight Helps As Well
As expected, studies have shown that there’s a correlation between cleaner airplanes and earlier flights. Obviously, the crew has more time to get in and clean the airplane overnight, so the bathrooms and galleys will be cleaner, the seats will be wiped down properly, and everything will be much more sanitary.
Clean your Area
Don’t let your fear of these germs stop you from flying! Instead, arrive prepared to clean up your immediate area yourself. Bring a pack or two of cleaning wipes and use them on your seat, armrests, and seatback tray. Also, arm yourself with tissues – use them for everything in the bathroom, from opening the door handle to flushing the toilet. You should also carry a small (TSA approved) bottle of hand sanitizer, a paper face mask, and even some Neosporin. If you dab the Neosporin around your nostrils, you’ll breathe in fewer germs. Once you disembark, wash your hands thoroughly with plenty of soap and hot water as soon as possible.
Before you decide to stop flying at all, remember that there are a few things that you can do. These include booking an earlier flight, upgrading from coach, and cleaning your own space.