Arline Hygiene



Germs are everywhere. That’s what we were told in school, but how does this connect with our everyday experiences? There is perhaps no better setting to demonstrate this than where people from around the world come together as they travel between cities, states, and countries. To find out just how dirty the airports and airplanes that we rely on for business and vacation really are, we sent a microbiologist to take samples from five airports and four flights.

The general consensus from this study: Airports and airplanes are dirtier than your home (NSF, 2011). Surprisingly, it is the one surface that our food rests on – the tray table – that was the dirtiest of all the locations and surfaces tested. 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. It’s also advisable to bring hand sanitizer for any other dirty surface you may touch along your journey.

Take a look at all of the results from the study to learn the other locations and surfaces you should steer clear from.

Airline Hygiene Exposed - Travelmath - ThinkerNation

To summarize, here is a ranking of the dirtiest places and surfaces on airplanes and at airports:

  1. Tray table - 2,155 CFU/sq. in.
  2. Drinking fountain buttons - 1,240 CFU/sq. in.
  3. Overhead air vent - 285 CFU/sq. in.
  4. Lavatory flush button - 265 CFU/sq. in.
  5. Seatbelt buckle - 230 CFU/sq. in.
  6. Bathroom stall locks - 70 CFU/sq. in.


Bathrooms were some of the cleaner surfaces tested, which may be contrary to conventional thought. Regular cleaning schedules mean these surfaces are...(click here to continue reading)

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