Germs on a plane: The dirtiest things when travelling by air revealed

There’s no better way to test your body’s immune system than by subjecting it to air travel according to a new report.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 13th September 2015, 5:58 am
You won't believe some of the dirtiest surfaces when travelling by air
You won't believe some of the dirtiest surfaces when travelling by air

Tight enclosed spaces, recirculated air and a massive flow of people are just some of the reasons airports and planes are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria.

But which surfaces are the dirtiest of all?

Website sent a microbiologist to take 26 samples from five airports and four flights by two major carriers.

And according to the results, the airplane tray table was the dirtiest of all the locations and surfaces they tested.

Tested tray tables were found to have an average of 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch.

“Since this could provide bacteria direct transmission to your mouth, a clear takeaway from this is to eliminate any direct contact your food has with the tray table,” said Travelmath’s report on the findings.

Coming second on the list were airport drinking fountain buttons, followed by airplane overhead air vents.

The list in full:

1) Tray table: 2,155 CFU/sq. in.

2) Drinking fountain buttons: 1,240 CFU/sq. in.

3) Overhead air vents: 285 CFU/sq. in.

4) Lavatory flush buttons: 265 CFU/sq. in.

5) Seatbelt buckles: 230 CFU/sq. in.

6) Bathroom stall locks: 70 CFU/sq. in.

So why are tray tables the most likely source of sickness and germs when travelling by air?

Travelmath said it might have something do with airline staff having little turnaround time between flights to actually give seats and the tables a thorough clean.

Washrooms, on the other hand, are cleaned frequently.

But before you cancel that next flight, bear in mind there’s a silver lining to the otherwise nasty findings.

Though the study didn’t specify which kinds of bacteria were found, Travelmath said all 26 samples from airports and planes were negative for the presence of fecal coliforms such as E. coli, which can potentially be infectious.

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