WITH so many people travelling through airports every day, it’s no wonder that some parts of them are actually pretty grim.
However, knowing where the most germ-ridden parts of the airport are can help us know how to avoid them, or if nothing else, when it’s best to wash our hands.
The following places are well-known germ hotspots inside both airports and planes, where contact with other passengers’ illnesses could be at its most frequent.
One of the first surfaces we encounter when we enter an airport is the self-service check-in kiosk that scans our boarding passes and lets us through to security.
With every single passenger having to go through this part of the airport, it’s no wonder that it’s a hotbed for bacteria.
A study commissioned by Insurance Quotes in 2018 measured the amount of colony-forming units (CFU) or bacteria per square inch in several well-used airport areas.
The average self check-in screen was found to have 253,857 CFU, and one particularly dirty check-in screen had a count of one million CFU per square inch.
In comparison, a toilet seat has just 172 CFU per square inch.
Some airports now have contactless scanning systems, which prevent the need to touch screens.
Not much further through the airport, the security trays are almost as bad as the check-in desks, and for more or less the same reason.
Every passenger that goes through the airport has to put their items in one of the bins, meaning they’re great receptacles for bacteria.
Adding to their potential for holding onto germs is the fact that plastic surfaces are known to be areas of “prolonged virus survival”.
An article published after a study carried out at a major airport in Finland said: “Each security tray is rapidly recycled and potentially touched by several hundred passengers per day.
“Also, plastic security trays are non-porous and virus survival is known to be prolonged.”
The researchers also said that the security trays are not routinely disinfected, as far as they were aware.
Plane tray tables
Airlines don’t always have time to give planes a full clean, meaning tray tables are sometimes neglected, leaving them vulnerable to germs.
In a thread on Reddit, one cabin crew member revealed the number of things they’ve seen on the tray tables that are not fit for human consumption, as they warned passengers about the issue.
They wrote: âThe tray tables are gross.
“Canât even remember how many times Iâve seen babies changed on them, puke on them, people bleed on themâ¦
“Theyâre supposed to be cleaned nightly, but I wouldnât put food directly on them. Nope nope nope!â
Plane and airport toilets
While the plane and airport toilets are clearly areas where germs are prevalent, the parts of the bathrooms that are dirtiest aren’t necessarily that obvious.
As explained earlier, the toilet seats are relatively clean compared to some parts of the airport, but the flush button is a different kettle of fish.
The button, which we all touch when we go to flush a toilet, is the germiest part of a toilet, according to the same 2018 study that revealed how filthy the check-in kiosks are.
Most airports will have places to fill up water bottles now, which is great for staying hydrated and saving money.
However, it means that a lot of passengers are now touching the same surfaces.
Dr. Michael May, from the Wimpole Clinic, said the fountains could be breeding grounds for germs.
He told Insider: “These water fountains are generally safe to drink from, however the surfaces around the fountain are what you want to avoid touching, since that’s where people before you could have sneezed, coughed, or even spit, leading to viruses.”
Meanwhile, a flight attendant revealed why the seat pocket on a plane is also a hotbed for germs and bacteria.
And this passenger was slammed for cleaning her seat during a flight.
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