Airlines increased their cleaning procedures during the Covid pandemic such as regular deep cleaning, new air filtration and sanitiser wipes handed out.
However, experts have warned that your plane may be more germ-ridden than before.
This is due to a combination of easing fears around the virus thanks to increased vaccination and scientific knowledge around transmission, along with airlines battling staffing shortages that are struggling to keep up with post-pandemic demand.
Shashank Nigam – the CEO of SimpliFlying and author of book Soar – told the Washington Post that deep cleaning aircraft between flights is no longer operationally possible as travel has returned to more regular levels.
The site also reported that shortages, in particular, of cleaning staff meant that it wasn’t possible to thoroughly wipe down the aircraft each time.
Verna Montalvo, a cabin cleaner for American Airlines at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, told the Washington Post that this meant she and her team sometimes had as little as four minutes to do the job each time.
She revealed: “Some flight attendants get upset because it’s not clean.
“Of course it’s not clean – because this is how much [time] they give us.”
In response, Rachel Warner a spokeswoman for American Airlines told the site: “We continuously work with our business partners to ensure adequate staffing levels to adhere to our cleaning standards, and expect all our partners’ compensation structures fairly reflects market levels.
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“Should a flight crew determine additional cleaning is needed to meet our standards, they are able to call the cleaning crew back to the aircraft.”
If you’re curious about the most germ-plagued spots, then American and Delta Airlines told the Washington Post that they continue to sanitise certain high-touch surfaces before each flight – which include seat belts, tray tables, armrests and the toilets.
Experts also revealed that the safest way to travel is still to wear a high-quality face mask.
Leonard Marcus, who launched the Aviation Public Health Initiative at the Harvard in 2020, added: “When I’m on a plane and I feel it’s necessary to take a drink or eat something, I’ll put it under my mask and then get the mask back on as soon as I can.”
However, a flight attendant explained why you should never use the seat pockets on the plane.
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