There is nothing worse than getting off of a flight to feel a cold settling in.
And while you can’t predict when you’ll be on the same flight as someone who is sick, there are steps you can take to walk out as germ free as possible. Here are 13 tips to help you stay healthy on a plane.
Don’t drink the tap water
In 2007, The Wall Street Journal conducted a study from 14 different international and domestic flights. Their results revealed traces of everything from Salmonella to tiny insect eggs lurking in the water.
Of the 14 they studied, almost all samples contained bacteria levels that reached “tens, sometimes hundreds of times above the US government limits.”
Efforts were made by the Environmental Protection Agency to clear the issue, but studies conducted in 2013 revealed that not much had changed regarding the bacteria levels of the water.
Skip getting any ice in your drinks
While ice usually comes from outside vendors, some large-size planes have their own ice-making technology and will use the water from the aeroplane tanks to make the cubes, according to CNN.
Since tanks are kept small to maintain a light weight, they can be refilled at foreign airports where water standards can vary greatly.
Avoid using the blankets and pillows
In another investigation by The Wall Street Journal, airlines were found to wash their blankets and pillows every five to 30 days.
Often, freshly washed blankets will only be set out for the first flights of the day, leaving customers who board towards the end of the day at risk.
Don’t touch the tray table
The tray table is one of the dirtiest parts of a plane.Flight attendants have admitted to only washing tray tables once a day and some have even seen parents changing their children’s dirty diapers on them.
The best thing to do is to wipe it down with a disinfectant and to absolutely avoid eating directly off of it.
Order a hot meal
In 2009, LSG Sky Chefs — one of the largest aeroplane caterers — was caught in a major scandal when the FDA found traces of insects in their facilities and the use of unwashed gloves and bare hands to prepare airline food. Another catering company, Gate Gourmet, also dealt with similar issues regarding bacteria and mould being found in their food.
Though companies have been improving their standards, the safest bet is to consume hot foods as the heat is more likely to kill off unwanted germs.
Avoid aisle seats
Some scientists say that sitting on the aisle seat leaves you more at risk of being exposed to germs as it puts you closer to passengers who are regularly coming and going from the restroom.
As some people tend to touch or hold aisle seats when walking down a moving plane, the risk of contamination on the seat ends is greater.
Use the air vent above your seat
While it’s common to think turning on the air vents will actually recycle germs, experts say that the cabin air filters capture up to 99.9 per cent of bacteria and viruses.
In fact, doctors recommend turning on the vent above your head to a low or medium pressure as it helps to create enough current to keep germs away.
Take precautions when using the restroom
A study conducted by James Barbaree, professor associate and director of the Auburn University Detection & Food Safety Center, revealed that while bacteria lives for shorter periods of time on plastic surfaces, these types of surfaces transmit germs to hands much more quickly.
So, when heading to the bathroom, make sure to use a tissue to open the handle and close the lid of the toilet when flushing to avoid the increased spreading of germs.
Finally, don’t use the water to brush your teeth and try to use sanitizer to clean your hands instead, since the same water in the aeroplane tanks is used in the restroom.
Use a nasal spray
Nasal sprays are made of saline concentration that helps add moisture to your noise.
As aeroplane cabins can dry the nose out, nasal sprays help to increase the flow of the tiny hairs in noses that block out germs.
Don’t drink coffee or tea
The coffee and tea that is brewed on board typically doesn’t reach temperatures that are hot enough to be able to kill off bacteria present in the aeroplane water.
When the Environmental Protection Agency tested aeroplane water nine years after major efforts were set in place to reduce bacteria levels, the results indicated that the water used to make coffee and tea in 12 per cent of commercial US planes still tested positive for bacteria like coliform.
Don’t place your items in the seat-back pocket
Besides the possibility that the seat-back pocket can be filled with anything from used tissues to trash, studies by Auburn University’s Department of Biological Sciences revealed that armrests and seat pockets are the worst areas to touch since bacteria like E. coli can survive there for days.
Ask to change your seat if the person next to you is sick
While this might not be possible on fuller flights, if there are open seats on the plane, asking to be moved due to someone close by who is sick isn’t uncommon.
Drink ample amounts of water to counteract the dry air found in aeroplane cabins.Plus, staying hydrated will help prevent dehydration, which can cause headaches, cramps, and fatigue.
Just make sure to bring your own bottled water or ask for bottled water in-flight to avoid having to drink tap.
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