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Last Updated On: 11/17/2012

Like it or not, air travel is conducive to partying with a variety of germs, both at the airport and on the plane.

While it may be impossible to completely stay away from germs on planes, particularly on a long distance international flight with several hundred fellow passengers, you can take some precautions to minimize your exposure to disease causing germs.

Worst Germ Areas on Planes

On a plane with a few hundred passengers, there's bound to be a bunch of them with flu, cold, cough and other communicable diseases.

While it's easy to identify the ones with cold or a cough and stay away from them, it's harder to know the silently sick ones. You just have to pray and hope that they're not sitting anywhere near you.

Every plane has three areas that are high risk terrain for germs: Toilets, Tray Tables and Latches on Overhead Bins are considered the worst areas.

While the aisles, floors and seats get a quick cleaning between flights, tray tables, latches on overhead bins and toilets generally do not get a good cleaning.

Hygiene experts have noted that tray tables rarely, if ever, get disinfected.

Any surprise then tray tables play host to a variety of germs including the norovirus, influenza virus, diarrhea and MRSA.

The latches on the overhead bins get aggressive treatment from several pairs of hands during each flight and are a party area for a variety of germs. Again, the latches too are seldom disinfected.

Toilets on planes are the worst areas and if you can 'hold it' then it's strongly recommended you do so. But on long-distance international flights, 'holding it' is just not an option.

Be warned that it's not rare to find E.Coli on toilet doors on flights.

On long-distance flights, over a hundred peopl use the toilets, sometimes more than once.

Unfortunately, not everyone washes their hands while leaving the toilets.

What Can You Do?

Carry plenty of napkins/disinfectant wipes and small bottles of hand-sanitizers and remember to use them frequently.

Yes, the water in the toilet sinks can shut off fast, sometimes even before you've washed your hands thoroughly.

Put your hand under the tap and wash it a second time if you feel that you didn't get your hands cleaned well the first time.

Use the disinfectant wipes/napkins to clean the tray table should you be using it.

Instead of using the overhead bin, carry a smaller bag and see if you can stow it under the seat in front of you.

Washing hands frequently and staying away from crowded areas in airports before boarding the plane are two of the best things you can do to minimize the chances of germs latching on to you.


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