You'll Never Guess the Germiest Place on an Airplane

upset woman on airplaneThere are so many reasons to hate air travel these days. How the price of tickets creeps up every few minutes. How you're strapped into chairs that have exactly NO leg room. How everyone around you is in an equally pissy mood from paying crazy-high ticket prices and having NO leg room. And now there's one more reason to loathe air travel: Airplanes are dirtier than your home.


Travelmath sent a microbiologist to take bacteria samples from five  airports and on four separate flights. Of course, they were expecting to find something gross. They're swabbing surfaces that people from all over the world have touched hundreds of time in the same day.

But there were some surprising finds when it came to the top 4 disgusto places on an airplane:

Drumroll, please.

4.  Your seatbelt buckle wins fourth place, with a respectably icky 230 colony-forming units (CFU) of bacteria per square inch.

3. A surprise winner here: the lavatory flush button at 265 CFU/sq. inch. We would have expected this beauty to take top prize.

2. Second place goes to the overhead air vent, with 285 CFU/sq. inch. We'll call this the "bad boy" of the bunch, just because those air vents NEVER work well. All those germs on your fingers for nothing.

1. And the winner by a LANDSLIDE? It's none other than... The tray table. Which harbors a staggering 2,155 CFU/sq. inch.

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Let's just cut to the chase and call it the germ tray. Or tuberculosis tray, because that's probably not far off the mark.

In Travelmath's study, airports themselves were far less dirty than airplanes. The only big news was that you shouldn't touch the drinking fountain button with your bare finger (1,240 CFU/sq. inch.). We all already knew bathroom stall locks are nasty (70 CFU/sq. inch.)

The only good news from the study? All 26 samples from the airports and airplanes tested negative for fecal coliform such as E.coli, which can be infectious. But! It's not the only kind of bacteria that's contagious and can make you sick.

Pay attention to what you and your family touch on an airplane. Please don't lick the tray table. And if you want to become one of those crazy ladies who totes an obnoxiously large container of hand sanitizer everywhere? Trust us, we're right there with you.


Image © Izabela Habur/iStock

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