The dirtiest areas of an aircraft revealed
The dirtiest areas of an aircraft revealed: E.coli and fecal matter found on aeroplane tray tables, blankets and seat pockets
- Tray tables are not just used by passengers for the storing of food items
- While germs in bathrooms might be expected, did you know the armrest harbours the most E.coli bacteria?
- Cabin crew reveal they have even seen passengers 'urinate in seats'
Getting ill after flying on a plane can be the worst possible start to a holiday.
So when taking your seat on the aircraft, it pays to be clued up as to how we can keep ourselves healthy and avoid contracting illnesses from other passengers.
While cleaning takes place on every changeover, germs can manage to evade detection and pose a serious threat to holidaymakers.
Here, MailOnline Travel highlights eight areas on a plane that can be the difference between holiday happiness and holiday nightmare.
The tray table
One ex-flight attendant for America's Southwest Airlines wrote on Reddit: 'If you have ever spread your peanuts on your tray and eaten, or really just touched your tray at all, you have more than likely ingested baby poo. I saw more dirty diapers laid out on those trays than food.'
Reports of passengers using the table to change their child's nappies should at least make a bacterial wipe a necessity.
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While many use tray tables for eating and storing food items, you may be shocked what some passengers use the table for
A study by Auburn University found that the tray table was the second highest carrier of E.coli in the plane cabin, with the disease festering for 72 hours.
'I would always encourage passengers to sanitise their tray tables and other surfaces before take off, said a member of cabin crew who preferred to remain anonymous.
'I have seen passengers change their baby's nappy on the tray table, and cut their fingernails on board.'
It's worth remembering that the blankets are used in a whole number of ways by different people
Blankets and pillows
That blanket you are snuggling up to has probably been rubbed up against, wiped and sat on by a number of passengers already.
Flight attendant Sara Keagle says that in her airline's economy class, freshly washed blankets and pillows are only supplied to the first flights of the day.
Back in 2007, Wall Street Journal reporter Darren Everson said he was told by one airline in the U.S. that blankets would be washed only once every 30 days.
The armrest and seatbelts
While you might battle to secure the armrest from the passenger seated next to you, it might be wiser to just let them have it.
The armrest is number one for the area in the cabin that has the highest levels of E.coli, according to a study in the U.S.
So whether it's from people eating food and wiping their hands in it, to the few who 'forget' to wash their hands after the toilet and use the rest to lever themselves back into the seat, it pays to give this non-porous surface a wipe down.
The plane’s seat belts – touched over the years by thousands of hands, are rarely cleaned or replaced and so present a similar threat to passengers' well-being.
The armrest on a plane is believed to contain the highest amount of E.coli on the plane cabin
The toilet handle
It's worth getting the order of procedure right when you use the bathroom.
Make sure flushing the toilet is done before you wash you hands. E.coli lives on the handle for 48 hours.
The aeroplane lavatory is a microcosm of microscopic germs. Dr. Charles Gerba, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona, told CNN that the aeroplane toilet 'is among the germiest that you will encounter almost anywhere.'
He said: 'You have 50 people per toilet, unless you are flying a discount airline; then it is 75. We always find E.coli on surfaces in airplane restrooms.'
It may be obvious, but the plane bathroom is a key factor in the spread of germs throughout a plane
The carpets and seats
It's not a good idea to walk barefoot in the plane, and you'll be safer if you have the least amount of skin in contact with the plane seat.
One member of cabin crew said: 'I have seen passengers even urinate in the seats. The carpets are filthy and the toilet floors are worse.'
'I would always encourage passengers to use a sanitising spray on their hands after using the loo and never walk barefoot around the cabin.'
The in-flight magazines
While the tatty nature of the in-flight magazine is expected on busy flights, it's what the eye can't see that poses more of a problem.
With hundreds of passengers leafing through the latest edition, there's no guarantee those fingers are clean.
While each airline carries out a thorough cleaning policy, it's unlikely this would stretch to giving each page a wipe down.
Passengers will use the seat pockets for storing their rubbish, that will often include snotty tissues
The seat pocket
For many, the worry is leaving our passport in this secret area of the plane. Unless you are lucky enough to have one of the no-frills net pocket that is.
However, the seat pocket is also a place to cram rubbish, and this includes used tissues, chewing gum and even nail clippings.
Should you accidentally find anything less-than-desirable in the pocket and come into contact with it, you should clean your hands before spreading any germs.
A 2013 study in the U.S. found that 12 per cent of them, or just more than one out of every 10 planes, tested positive for coliform, an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria may be in the water.
So it's no surprise a welcome drink on board will come from a bottle of water rather than a jug.
It may also be worth leaving off the ice in your drinks.