3 Surprising Facts About Airplane Germs

Imagine: you’re walking down the aisle of a 747 en route to (enter dream destination here), lugging a carry-on along with a bag full of your in-flight necessities. Ever wonder about the germs that are fellow passengers on that plane? Well, now that you are (sorry!), here’s what microbiologist Charles Gerba thinks you should know.

airplane-cabin
Photo by Yolande Sutton Photography/Getty Images
  • Dr. Gerba says that the most germ-ridden spot you will encounter on a plane will be the restroom sink faucet as well as the restroom’s exit door handle. Shield yourself from some of them by using a paper towel as a barrier between your hand and these hot spots. Then apply hand sanitizer once you get to your seat.
  • So what’s the best (TSA-approved) product we should have on hand to fend against the germs? Dr. Gerba’s answer is simply, “A small bottle of alcohol gel sanitizer. It’s about the best mobile defense you have.” Have dry skin? Toddlers? Find a hand sanitizer with germ-fighting power that best suits your needs.
  • We quizzed Dr. Gerba about the cleanliness of airplane-supplied pillows and blankets and, though he has not had the opportunity to test many, he did say that the ones he did test proved to be pretty clean. So rest (somewhat) assured knowing there’s a little extra room in your bag for more Purell.