With airlines having stringent standards for aircraft cleanliness now, most plane cabin environments are quite clean in general.
However, hundreds of people go in and out of the plane daily and exposure to germs and bacteria is unavoidable.
In order to prevent yourself from falling sick when you fly, practising good hygiene habits on the plane can help limit your exposure to germs and give you peace of mind.
Here are nine tips from SQ girls on how you can avoid germs and stay healthy when you travel on a plane.
NEVER WALK BAREFOOT ON THE PLANE
You might think, “Well, duh everyone knows that”, but you’d be surprised at how many passengers still do it.
Even though the carpets look clean, there may still be bacteria or dirt from previous spills or stains on them. You also run the risk of stepping on sharp objects like toothpicks or glass.
Many passengers also think it is OK to go around in socks, but their socks might get wet when they enter the bathroom and unknowingly step on water (or other liquids) on the floor.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of wearing your shoes each time you get out of your seat, change into a pair of foldable travel slippers or hotel slippers that you can use throughout the flight.
BRING YOUR OWN WATER
Water from the galley taps on a plane is safe to drink as evident by the countless cabin crew who consume it on a regular basis.
However, if you feel iffy about drinking water from a tank, stick to drinking the complimentary bottled water or any water that is sealed if they are available on your flight. Or, fill up your empty water bottle at the airport before boarding the plane.
Do not, however, drink water from the tap in the bathroom. Want hot drinks? Fill up a flask with hot water at the airport and make your own coffee or tea on board.
Alternatively, ask the cabin crew to fill up hot water into your flask when you’re on the flight.
BRING ANTI-BACTERIAL WET WIPES
After every flight, a cleaning crew comes onto the plane to clean and freshen up the plane.
However, they only have a limited time to clean up and may not be able to wipe down every seat before new passengers come onboard for the next flight.
It is best to bring your own anti-bacterial wet wipes and wipe down your armrests and tray table before settling down in your seat.
If you want to be more thorough, you can also wipe the in-flight entertainment system remote and seatbelt buckles so that you can minimise any contact with germs.
DON'T PUT FOOD DIRECTLY ON THE TRAY TABLE
The tray table doesn’t get sterilised between flights and besides using it for eating and drinking, some people might also rest their heads (or feet) on the table.
Always make sure that your food is at least on a paper towel before placing it on the table.
PACK A FACE MASK
Seated near someone who refuses to cover his or her mouth when they cough?
Besides trying to ask for a change of seats, the next best thing is to wear a face mask if you are worried about catching any germs.
It will also come in handy if you are coughing—wear it to show consideration to other passengers.
APPLY HAND SANITISER OFTEN
Washing your hands frequently is a good way to prevent germs from spreading, especially if you are sick and have been using your hands to cover your mouth when you cough.
However, it is unrealistic to make multiple trips to the bathrooms just to wash your hands especially if you are on a crowded plane or stuck in the middle seat.
The next best thing is to apply hand sanitiser often. It is also a good idea to sanitise your hands after you touch something on the plane such as your arm rests or tray table if you don’t have anti-bacterial wet wipes on hand.
AVOID TOUCHING SURFACES IN THE BATHROOM
If you need to use the bathroom, place a paper toilet-seat cover or spread toilet paper over the toilet seat before sitting down on it.
Just in case the previous occupants were sick or didn’t wash their hands after using the toilet, use a paper towel when you are pressing for water at the sink and whenever you have to touch the door latch to lock and unlock the bathroom door.
TRY NOT TO USE THE SEAT POCKETS UNLESS NECESSARY
Cabin crew always check the seat pockets after every flight to clear trash and to see if there are any items left behind by passengers.
However, the pockets might not be completely clean as there may be leftover crumbs of food or trash buried deep inside.
It is best not to put any of your personal belongings especially those that come into close contact with you such as your phone, tablet device or headphones inside them but if you must, try to stash it at the top instead of pushing them all the way inside the pocket.
AVOID THE AISLE SEATS
Aisle seats are popular because it’s easier for passengers to stretch out their legs and it’s more convenient when they need to go to the bathroom.
However, being next to the aisle also means that you have more chances of being in contact with passengers who are walking in and out of the bathroom.
They might brush against you or your arm rests and if they haven’t washed their hands… well, you get the drift.
If you want to avoid catching any bugs that can make you ill, it is best to get a window seat.
This article was first published in CLEO Singapore.