It is not an exaggeration to say that flying on an airplane is like flying in a petri dish. You are stepping out of the comfort zone of your home where everything is clean and into a veritable “hot zone” of germs. There is simply no telling how sick someone might be that is traveling just a few rows behind you on an airplane. Does this mean you should never travel by air? Of course not! You just need to be aware of where the germ hunt zones are and have a plan for combating them.
The Tray Table
When researchers sent a microbiologist collect samples from different airport and airplane surfaces, they discovered that the tray table on the back of your cabin seat tested the highest for bacteria. How high? On the average, there was 2,155 colony forming units per square inch. Compare that with the 265 colony forming units per square inch on a bathroom flush button and you can see where the germs are hanging out. It is probably better that you don’t know the specific germs that were found in the study. Just know that when that tray table comes down, your sanitary baby wipes should come out!
To save money, you might think that it is a good idea to bring an empty water bottle into the terminal and use the water fountains they are to fill it up. Yes, that might save you a few bucks but it can also introduce you to a lot of germs. Again, in terms of colonies warming units per square inch, water fountain buttons had 1,240. That could be 1,240 chances of getting sick.
Your Cabin Seat
One of the reasons that airplanes are hot zones for germs is because of the environmental conditions. There is no “sunlight disinfectant.” The humidity levels on most commercial flights are very conducive to spreading germs. A lot of that bacteria can live for several days on a typical cabin seat. Something to consider.
Before you even get into the airport you have to go through the TSA checkpoint. That will involve handling those bins that go through the x-ray machine. Of course, everyone before you have also touched those bins. More microbiologists tested the bins and found that there are enough bacteria on them to make most people sick.
What does this all mean for your next flight? For one, you should have everyone your traveling with carry their own hand sanitizer. After coming in contact with any of these items be sure to give your hands a nice cleaning. Any chance you have to wipe down services before using them you should take. It is also not a bad idea to fortify yourself with vitamins before you travel to boost your immune systems. Happy flying!