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The 15 Dirtiest Places on an Airplane

The 15 Dirtiest Places on an Airplane

Wash your hands after touching these, or risk sharing spit with dozens of other frequent flyers

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Discover where germs are lurking on your flight.

With all the stress of packing, long lines, unpacking, and other traveling tedium, you’re probably not prioritizing sanitation when you board an airplane. You’re just trying to make it to your seat intact before you’re run over by the boisterous family of five waiting in line behind you.

Click here for The 15 Dirtiest Places on an Airplane slideshow.

But an airplane is one of the places you’re most likely to get sick while traveling. Hundreds of people are piled into a compact cabin just minutes after hundreds of other people walked out — it’s a setup for germ disaster.

Passengers’ hands touch the windows, the seats, the overhead bins, and so much more. When germs hit a surface, they can remain alive there for hours, and in some cases days. That’s days of germy pileup waiting for you as you board.

Then, once you’ve touched everything, you sit down and touch your face, touch your eyes, and dig in to the complimentary snacks without thinking twice. This is where people go wrong and often get sick. But if you know where germs are lurking, you can take the appropriate steps to be cautious and keep infectious germs at bay. Here are the 15 dirtiest places on every airplane.

To find out the germiest spots in your hotel room, click here.


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."


These are the dirtiest areas on aeroplanes

There's a huge misconception that it's the air-conditioning on planes &ndash more specifically, the circulation of air - that makes us more susceptible to colds. In fact, modern aircraft systems clean the air before it's circulated.

We're more likely to pick up bugs and get sick because of the dry air and things we touch on an aircraft. A lack of humidity can dry mucus membranes, leaving them more susceptible to bugs. And, as with any enclosed space with lots of people, e.g. hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, shopping centres, etc. infection has the potential to spread more easily.

A study from the Journal of Environmental Health Research says that a person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold while a plane, compared to every day life.

Time.com recently revealed a list of the dirtiest places on aeroplanes. In order to avoid any cold or sickness bugs getting in the way of your holiday, here are the spots you should immediately wash your hands after touching.

Tray tables

How many times to you unfold your tray table during a journey? We're guessing quite a few. With all the touching and food from passengers gone by, it's little surprise that Travelmath estimate tray tables have 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch &ndash more than a toilet flush or seat. TIME spoke to microbiologist from the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, who explained that his previous research has shown traces of cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus and MRSA.

Toilet flushes

Unsurprisingly, toilet flush buttons had 265 CFU/sq. in. More reason to wash your hands thoroughly, and use a paper towel to open the latch upon leaving the toilet, as handles can carry 70 CFU/sq. in.

Seatbelt buckles

According to the same 2015 study, seat buckles had 230 CFU/sq. in. Research from Auburn University in Alabama revealed MRSA lasted for seven days in the seat pocket and E. coli for four days on the armrest.

The aisle seat

Interestingly, TIME explain that the aisle seat comes with a greater risk of falling ill because they are regularly touched by passengers holding on for support. The publication reference a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, whereby passengers on an airline that had to make an emergency landing because of a norovirus outbreak were more likely to be ill if they had sat in the aisle &ndash there was no link between contracting it and the bathroom.

How to avoid falling ill

  • While most airlines maintain high hygiene standards, one sure-fire way to reduce your chances of catching a cold or flu virus is washing your hands. Your hands will transfer cold and flu viruses on to surfaces, or vice versa. Also avoid touching your eyes &ndash this is a common entry point for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. So if you haven't washed your hands or used antibacterial hand gel, avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Don't put food directly on the tray table and wipe it down with a antibacterial wipe when you get on the plane to prevent mucus membranes from drying out. Nasal sprays and saline eye drops are also useful.
  • Bring your own travel pillow and blanket, where possible
  • You're most likely to get a cold if you're sat next to someone who is already under the weather. If there's room to swap seats, ask (politely). Although, there are no guarantees

In a previous myth-busting feature for NetDoctor, hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said:

"Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning doesn't spread bugs on an plane - touching dirty surfaces is usually the culprit. Clean your seat tray and remote control, or anything else that a previous occupant may have touched, with an antibacterial wipe."