Achoo – ew!
What's worse, a recent study from MIT estimates that only about 20 percent of people in airports have clean hands (meaning they were washed with soap and water for a minimum of 15 seconds within the hour). However, researchers also found that if about 60 percent of airport-goers had truly clean hands, it could help slow the spread of global disease by as much as 69 percent.
Though you can’t control your fellow passengers, you can take matters into your own hands by thoroughly disinfecting your airplane seat before your next flight. Here's how:
Use antibacterial wipes
Use a pack of antibacterial wipes with alcohol to wipe down everything in your personal area, including the tray table, arm rest, seatbelt handle, air vents and call buttons, Ohio State University infectious disease specialist Debra A. Goff, Pharm.D. told Reader’s Digest. Hitting these “high touch” areas is a surefire way to fight germs, she said.
Though you can’t control your fellow passengers, you can take action into your own hands by thoroughly disinfecting your airplane seat before your next flight. (iStock)
If you’re feeling generous, consider passing out the wipes to your fellow seatmates, Goff suggests — after all, the cleaner the area, the better for all passengers.
“Unlike sharing bacteria and viruses, this is something you want to share,” she said.
Consider a seat cover
Wary of the upholstered seats? Whether you’re flying high in first-class or hunkering down in economy, antibacterial wipes won’t help you here. Instead, avid travelers may want to invest in a reusable seat and tray table cover, SmarterTravel recommends.
Furthermore, a 2018 study of aircraft cleanliness suggested that seats’ headrests may be the germiest surfaces on the plane, with some testing positive for E. coli bacteria. All the more reason to get sit back and relax with your own cover, on your own terms.
Be careful what you touch
Don't get too comfortable too quickly: If you're a fan of spreading out and using the seatback pocket for your belongings or snacks, SmarterTravel suggests keeping your personal items a bit closer. Because seatback pockets are often touched by dozens of passengers, they can harbor “one of the airplane’s highest concentrations of germs,” the site claims.
Frequent flyers may be especially nervous about getting sick during their travels amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and flu season. (iStock)
Respiratory illnesses, like coronavirus, generally spread via a person coming into contact with an infected persons’ saliva or mucus. Droplets from a sneeze or cough can land on surfaces, such as tray tables or arm rests, and potentially infect a nearby passenger sharing the enclosed space.
However, study participants who sat in window seats had less interaction with other passengers — beyond those sitting within two rows of them — thus limiting their chances of interacting with an infected person, the study leads said.
As of Tuesday, the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus (formerly known as the novel coronavirus) has reportedly infected more than 73,250 people across the globe, while the death toll has risen to at least 1,868.
A February report from the CDC states that the flu has caused at least 26 illnesses and 14,000 deaths between Oct. 1 of last year and Feb. 8.
Fox News’ Michael Bartiromo, Alexandra Deabler and Madeline Farber contributed to this report.