Over time, airplanes have gotten a bad reputation for being packed with a whole variety of germs and diseases, but most people do not know where exactly these germs lie, as well as how to avoid them. OROGOLD reviews some of the most common airplane myths, along with the actual truth behind them.
Cabin air is a dangerous health hazard
One of the most commonly believed airplane myths is that the most dangerous hazard whilst flying is the cabin air itself. This is definitely not true, as cabins are fitted with HEPA filters, which clean the air. Instead, the upholstery of the seats, the tray tables, the armrests and the toilet handles are much more likely to contain traces of certain bacteria, including MRSA and E. Coli. These strains of bacteria have been found to live for up to a week on planes that haven’t been properly cleaned.
Each plane is thoroughly cleaned between flights
According to many industry watchers, proper cleaning of the inside of an aircraft does not happen as frequently as we would like to think. Since the FAA does not regulate, or even inspect, aircraft cleaning, it is left up to the individual airlines to handle. As a general rule, each aircraft is supposed to be thoroughly wiped down after every 30 days of service, or after a 100 hour flying period. However, this means that an aircraft could carry out dozens of different flights before it is deep-cleaned.
It is safe to use the bagged pillows and blanket
It is easy to believe that the pillows and blankets that are handed out, wrapped in plastic, are safe to use, but this is not necessarily true. Eyewitness accounts have stated that on some airlines, pillows are stored in the overhead compartments in between flights, with nobody changing the pillowcases. Your best bet would be to bring along a warm jacket, as well as neck pillow that has a cover that can be easily washed.
Airlines take precautions to ensure that certain viruses, such as Ebola, are not spread through the cabin
Ebola is a virus that is causing particular concern at the moment, but, as of yet, there have not been any reported cases of the virus managing to spread within the confined space of an aircraft cabin. Ebola is not an airborne virus, and can only be spread via blood or bodily fluids, so all passengers should make sure to cover up and exposed wounds.
Once I’m on the plane, there’s nothing I can do to protect myself from harmful bacteria
Every flier can, and should, take steps to ensure that they are protected from any harmful bacteria that may be living in an aircraft. A pack of disinfectant wipes should be carried with you at all times, and used to wipe down the armrest and tray table as soon as you reach your seat. When touching door knobs or the toilet handle, it is best to use a tissue or a paper towel, so that your skin does not come into direct contact with it. As tear ducts are a fast route for germs to reach the nose and throat, your eyes are particularly vulnerable, and you should keep your hands as far away from them as possible.
Although the amount of germs that are found on an airplane may seem shocking, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself protected from them. By being aware of which areas of a plane contain the most harmful bacteria, and by carrying disinfectants and hand sanitizers with you at all times, you will have a much better chance of keeping your body free from the germs.