FYI, airplanes are dirtier than you could ever imagine

No one feels fantastic after a flight, but when you read how unclean certain parts of the plane can be, you may feel queasy even on solid ground. And the toilet isn't even the worst of it...

It's that time of year where we are all looking forward to our holidays — but how often have you landed only to feel the sniffles set in or for your tummy to start feeling dodgy before you've even sampled any local cuisine?

If you aren't the type to pack hand santiser with you on every trip, then you should be. It's no joke that airplanes are a pretty gross place to be locked inside for several hours at a time.

We're not only going on more flights than ever before, but we're also more likely to go that bit further afield than ever before, prolonging our exposure to all the bacteria floating around in the recycled cabin air.

So how gross is a plane? One study found that airports and airplanes are dirtier than your home. Which may make you reconsider taking a catnap on the floor during a long layover.

A colony forming unity (CFU) is used to estimate the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample. By viable, scientists mean capable of multiplying via binary fission.

The study found that the tray table could have 2,155 CFU, compared to just 265 CFU on the toilet flush button.

In the airport, the buttons on the self check-in kiosk and the button on the water fountains were the hotspots for germs.

Many Reddit Q&As with flight attendants have revealed that staff have witnessed a lot of poor hygiene during flights, from blankets being refolded for a subsequent flight without being cleaned, to parents changing nappies on the traytable.

Another study found that the headrest of aisle seats is another hotbed for germs, as everyone grabs onto it as they walk past.

Airplane stewards are under more pressure than ever to ensure quick turnover between flights, not allowing them enough time to thoroughly clean the space. A plane could be used for multiple flights a day, and only cleaned when it remains overnight. British Airways and American Airlines recently tested not cleaning airplanes between short haul flights at all.

The seatbelt is another place that accumulates more germs than you might expect, as people will open and close their belt several times over the course of a long flight.

Tricks to avoiding germs on flights:

  • Don't walk around in socks, as planes have lot of footfall between cleanings.
  • Avoid using the front pocket if possible. You may just want to stow your magazine or ipad there, but previous passengers could have used it as an interim rubbish bin.
  • Be careful about areas your hands come into contact with, like TV buttons and the arm rests, and use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • The air vent is important for filtering the air on the plane, but again many hands will have touched that nozzle.
  • Only accept airplane headphones, blankets and pillows in a sealed bag.
  • Stick to bottled water and avoid tea or coffee if you're concerned about water quality. The water on planes reserved for tea and coffee making may be tapwater that might not be as clean as your body is used to.
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