10 Surprising Tips for Avoiding Germs on Airplanes

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Monday November 11, 2019

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Germs are everywhere! Normally, if we are confronted with someone sick or something germy, we can easily walk away. Unfortunately, you can’t walk away when you’re inside a flying machine thousands of feet in the air. So what now?

Avoiding germs on airplanes isn’t impossible. There are plenty of ways to easily stay germ-free and healthy while relaxing on your flight. Below, we provide you with 10 surprising tips for avoiding germs on airplanes. You’ll be able to sit back and enjoy your flight worry-free and, most importantly, germ-free!

Do You Know the Statistics About Airplane Germs? 

You know that you’re trying to avoid germs, but do you know how many germs there are and where they’re found? Well, we are here to give you a little peek into just that.

According to a study reported on by Forbes, there are two places on an airplane that are far germier than the airplane toilet flush button, although you should still avoid directly touching that with your hand.

The study showed that airplane seat trays and the overhead air vents are actually more germ-filled than the flush button. The flush button ranked third, with 265 bacteria colony-forming units per square inch. Air vents were second with 285 and seat trays took first place with 2,155. Who knew!

Although an airplane is a pretty confined space, it’s highly unlikely that you will catch a sickness from another passenger unless they are sitting right beside you. A study published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” showed that the likelihood of catching a sickness from a person sitting farther away from you is just three percent.

Now that you know where the most germs are and have a sense of how germs spread on a plane, it’s time for you to do your part in protecting yourself.

10 Tips for Avoiding Germs on Airplanes

You want to know just how to avoid germs on airplanes, and that’s exactly what we have for you. Below are 10 easy tips to follow to stay as germ-free as possible on your next flight.

1. Wipe Down, Then Touch

Have you ever watched those movies where the one friend is absolutely terrified of germs and wipes down everything before they touch it? Well, that’s exactly who you should become when riding in airplanes.

As we saw in the previous section, some areas on airplanes can be covered in thousands of invisible germs. Gross!

Thus, you should remember to wipe down, then touch.

Want to use the tray? Wipe, then use. Need more air from the air vent? Wipe, then open it. Have to use the bathroom? Wipe the handle, the seat, the flush button — everything, honestly. Only then should you use it.

Wipe down, then touch. It could save your life!

2. Don’t Put Food in Seat Pockets Unless It’s Wrapped

You don’t generally put food on bare surfaces, right? So why would you do that on airplanes, especially with the germ count you just read about? Yikes!

To make sure your food stays as germ-free as possible, do not put your food in the seat pockets unless it’s wrapped. This will protect it from picking up any germs and keep you from potentially getting sick.

The same goes for the airplane seat trays. If you are going to place your food on it, make sure to have the food on a plate or inside a ziplock bag.

3. Wear a Scarf

Although you may not be traveling in the wintertime, it’s always a good idea to carry a spare scarf with you on airplanes. Wearing a scarf that covers your mouth and nose can prevent airborne viruses from finding their way into your respiratory tract.

Plus, no one said it couldn’t be a stylish scarf!

4. Take Care of Yourself Before Hand

Taking these precautions with you is definitely important, but it’s also essential to care for yourself before setting foot on the plane. By this, we mean you should take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy body and immune system.

You should eat well, exercise often, stay hydrated and get the correct amount of sleep for your age and lifestyle. Doing these four things can help keep your immune system working like it should — protecting you from germs anywhere you go.

If your body is already worn-down before catching a flight, you’ll be more susceptible to catching an illness from any germs you come in contact with on the plane.

5. Don’t Touch the Door knob

This is pretty simple. Just try not to touch the bathroom door knob directly. Use a tissue when opening the door or cover your hand with your sleeve first.

Or, remember tip number one — “Wipe Down, Then Touch!” Here is a great instance for when you can wipe, then touch. Just wipe the handle and then use it.

Opening the doorknob using any of these tactics will help you avoid the germs found on airplanes.

6. Bring Your Own Pillow

Are you taking a long flight? Are you one of those people who can easily fall asleep thousands of feet in the air? If so, here’s a pro-tip for you. Bring your own pillow!

You can never be absolutely certain where the pillows on the airplanes have been or how often their covers are washed. For all you know, someone could have used it right before you!

Either way, all of these possibilities and all of the potential germs can be avoided by simply bringing your own pillow from home. Then, you can happily relax and enjoy your nap without worry.

7. Saline Nose Spray Is a Life Saver

This may come as a shock, but the air you breathe on airplanes is very dry. This is not good for you or anyone else on the plane who’s trying to avoid germs and sickness. This air dries out the mucous membranes in your nose, which causes you to be less resistant to infections.

To combat this, you can use saline nose spray before and after your flight. This will help keep moisture in those membranes and your resistance level high.

But perhaps you aren’t one for using nose sprays. Don’t worry — USA Today has a few other tips to help keep your nose from drying out.

8. Sit Near the Front of the Plane

This isn’t a foolproof tactic, but sitting near the front of the plane can help you avoid being in the thick of the germs and surrounded by lots of people. Sitting towards the front gets you out of the middle and gives you a quick escape once the plane lands.

9. Don’t Drink the Coffee or the Tea

Try to avoid drinking the coffee or the tea on airplanes if you can. The water used to make these beloved beverages is tap water, not bottled water. This means it may not be filtered correctly and it isn’t made hot enough to boil the germs out.

According to an article from Travel and Leisure, the tap water used on planes is transported by truck from the original source to the plane, which can put more germs into the water during transport.

Fortunately, the normal ice water you receive during flights is bottled water. As a result, there’s less of a worry there.

10. After the Ride Is Just as Important

What you do right after your flight is just as important as what you do before and during. Once you’ve landed, you can help yourself avoid any germs from the plane that may have gotten on you by washing your hands, changing your clothes or even taking a shower if you prefer.

Any of these will ensure that you’re able to clean yourself of any little passengers that decided to hitch a ride after the flight.

Travel Without Worry

Now that you have a few tips on how to avoid germs on airplanes, get out there and travel germ-free. Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight!

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