Travelling is gross. Everyone is sweaty, no one has brushed their teeth for hours, the air con is pumping recycled germs directly in to your face. But the grossest part of travelling could be the plane itself.
A new study has revealed the filthiest parts of an aeroplane. And the bad news is, theyre the places we touch all the time. From the headrests to the tray tables, the five dirtiest surfaces were found to be covered in mould, yeast and bacteria.
The investigation looked at 18 short-haul flights between Ottawa and Montreal, flying with Canadas three major airlines — Air Canada, WestJet and Porter — at different times throughout the day.
They collected more than 100 samples, swabbing the seatbelts, tray tables, headrests, seat pockets and bathroom door handles.
It was found that headrests are the dirtiest surface on airplanes, carrying hemolytic bacteria, E.coli, and the highest aerobic count. Seat pockets are also extremely dirty, with a high aerobic count, mold, coliforms, and E.coli found on many of the samples.
Close behind them are seatbelts, tray tables and bathroom door handles.
Scientists say that the presence of E. coli suggests there has been faecal contamination, and the bacteria can cause intestinal infections, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Speaking about the results, microbiologist Keith Warriner, told CBC News: I was really amazed about how much we actually recovered from them. Some of them more scary than others.
It has been suggested that high levels of filth and bacteria could be due to cabin crew not having enough time to thoroughly clean the plane between flights.
CBC reports that the researchers spoke to multiple flight attendants and customer service representatives who said there simply wasnt enough time to properly disinfect an entire aircraft.
Responding to CBC, Air Canada, WestJet and Porter all said they follow Canadian and international cabin-grooming rules.
WestJet said its planes are cleaned daily, explaining that aircrafts are given a light groom after every flight, a full groom every 24 hours, a complete interior clean monthly, and an enhanced, hyper-focused groom every year.