Travel Tip: How to keep germ-free when flying on a plane

While airline crew and cleaners do their best to keep aircraft clean, there's no way they can get to every surface inside the cabin in the short amount of time they have between flights.

But while its impact has been widely felt, coronavirus is actually quite easy to kill using everyday disinfectant. 

At this time of heightened awareness around germ and virus transmission, it's good to remember a few simple things you can do to keep your personal space on an aircraft germ-free.

Naomi cleans absolutely everything around her.
Naomi cleans absolutely everything around her. Photo credit: Naomi Campbell/You Tube.

Choose the window seat  

A study conducted by Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology found that droplet-spread infections usually only travel as far as two seats either side and one row behind and in-front of an infected passenger.

"We now know a lot about how passengers move around on flights," said Professor Vicki Hertzberg.

  • 40 percent of passengers never leave their seats
  • 40 percent get up once during the flight
  • 20 percent get up two or more times

People closer to the aisle moved around more.

80 percent of those in aisle seats got up during the flight compared to 60 percent in middle seats and 40 percent in window seats.

Don't touch your face

Even if you've cleaned everything around you, making sure your hands are washed is just as important in the air as it is on the ground. Viruses such as COVID-19 enter your system through your eyes, nose and mouth. Some viruses can survive on any surface including metal, glass and plastic, for as long as nine days.

Clean your space

A study conducted on behalf of Canadian broadcaster, CBC, revealed just how dirty airplane surfaces can get.

  • Tray tables: Had high levels of mould and hemolytic bacteria
  • Bathroom door handle: Third highest total bacteria count of all surfaces tested
  • Seat belt: Mould and yeast were found in around 30 percent of the samples taken
  • Seat pocket: High levels of mould as well as E coli and other coliforms
  • Headrest: This was found to be the most infected area of all those tested with the highest total bacterial count as well as E coli and hemolytic bacteria.

Flight attendants that took part in the study said items they'd recovered from seat pockets included used tampons, loose condoms, sandwiches and dirty nappies.

The hardest part about keeping clean in the air may end up being getting your hands on cleaning products. Panic-buying has led to stores being sold out of wipes and hand sanitiser.