If your summer plans include a flight to an exotic vacation spot, it’s time to start planning. And no, we don’t mean your itinerary — we bet you already have that covered. We’re more concerned about your hygiene as you pass through the airport and make your way onto the plane. Because the road to the runway is paved with germs waiting to sink their nasty infections into you.
So without further ado, here are five of the germiest spots you’re bound to encounter on your next trip to the airport. A special thanks to Peter Sheldon Sr., of Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System, a franchisor of commercial cleaning businesses, for bringing our attention to the grossness that is the airport experience.
1. The airplane bathroom
Public bathrooms are bad enough, but there’s something extra appalling about wedging oneself into a tiny, claustrophobic airplane bathroom. We can only hope that our fellow passengers are washing their hands after doing their business, but even if they are, that tiny sink is not the ideal, roomy place in which to thoroughly wash up. And let’s not forget the germs people are bringing into the bathroom before they even drop their pants.
Solution: If your flight is short, try to avoid using the facilities on board. When nature does call, and you can’t help but answer, use a paper towel to turn faucets off and on, to close the lid before flushing and to open the door.
2. Onboard magazines
Who knows how many people have touched the magazines in the pocket in front of you. And how many of those people haven’t washed their hands after visiting No. 1 on our list of germy places. And how many of those people have licked their finger to the turn the page. Enough said.
Solution: Bring your own magazines and books. And try not to touch anything in the seat-back pocket in front of you unless you must consult the emergency evacuation instructions or the vomit bag.
3. The water fountain
May we recommend skipping the water fountain wherever you go? Just check out this study by a 13-year-old middle school student, who tested the water in a toilet and a water foundation in 2007. The results showed that the water in the toilet was cleaner than in the fountain.
Solution: We know buying a drink in the terminal is a pricey transaction, but please do so. Or ask for bottled water from the beverage cart once you’re in flight.
4. Airline pillows and blankets In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that airlines cleaned their blankets every five to thirty days. And to add insult to injury, some airlines are now charging you to use their germy pillows and blankets.
Solution: Bring your own. Check out these travel pillows and blankets from Brookstone. And wear layers if you tend to get cold on flights.
5. The security line
It may be tempting to throw on some flip-flops as you run out the door to catch your flight, especially during these hot summer months. But take it from us: You do not want to walk through the security checkpoint barefoot. Catching athlete’s foot or some other fungal infection is not a great way to start your vacation.
Solution: Always wear socks and shoes when traveling. Plus, it’s always a good idea to wear sturdy shoes in case of an emergency.