Let's be real - airplanes are just big, flying tubes of germs. They are bacteria factories.
If you've been on a flight to literally anywhere in the world, you're undoubtedly aware of the disgusting feeling you get when you realize that for the next few hours, you're stuck in an airtight capsule with hundreds of strangers all breathing each other's air, coughing, sneezing, wiping their noses and sharing the same ridiculously small bathroom. It's one of those things where if you think about it too much, you'll end up turning around at the gate and renting a car to drive yourself to that family reunion instead.
Sure, you can bring hand wipes and sanitizer to make yourself feel better about hurtling through the sky in a big germ box, but when it comes down to it, there's not much you can do - unless you know exactly where the bacteria is lurking, and then avoid it at all costs.
Luckily, we know exactly where those places are. A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) consumer watchdog series has published a new study that names the five dirtiest surfaces on an airplane. Get ready to cringe. Hard.
According to an analysis done by "Marketplace," a CBC consumer watchdog news series, headrests and seat-pocket are among the dirtiest surfaces one can touch on an airplane. The episode broadcasting these findings was aired by "Marketplace" on October 26th.
According to CBC, investigators took 18 flights between Ottawa and Montreal using three separate airlines—Air Canada, WestJet, and Porter—and then collected more than 100 samples from a variety of surfaces. From there, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph analyzed the samples and tested them for bacteria, yeast, mould and E.coli.
Yeast and mould were detected on a majority of the 18 flights, and CBC reports that about half of the surfaces sampled in this study showed "levels of bacteria or yeast and mould that could put a person at risk for infection."
Oh, and the most contaminated surface on the whole plane? The headrest — yeah, that thing you lay your head on for pretty much the entire flight.
If you haven't left out of disgust yet, here are the other four dirtiest surfaces of airplanes according to the "Marketplace" report: seat belts, tray tables, washroom handles and seat pockets.
According to the study, seat belts had mould and yeast on one-third of the collected samples. Tray tables carried both high levels of mould and other bacteria.
Washroom handles carried bacteria as well as a high aerobic count, and seat pockets are just downright filthy, with a high aerobic count, mould, coliforms and E.coli found on various samples. And as we previously discussed, headrests are the dirtiest surface on airplanes, carrying hemolytic bacteria, E.coli, and the highest aerobic count. Excuse me while I gag.
So, yeah, please carry hand sanitizer or maybe a full hazmat suit next time you get on a plane.