Ask the Editor: Airplanes Are So Germy. How Do I Stay Healthy While Flying?

Here’s how to avoid the ick.

germs on planes

Here’s how to avoid the germs on planes. Photograph by JC Gellidon via Unsplash

Airplanes and hotels are the germiest. How can I avoid the ick?

— Jen in Elkins Park

Airports and planes are a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. (Think of how many heads have touched that headrest!) To protect yourself, UPenn Division of Infectious Diseases professor David Pegues recommends wiping down the tray table and armrests with disinfectant wipes when you board. “Hard, nonporous surfaces can be cleaned easily,” he says.

As for softer items like the seat pocket, touch them as little as possible; bacteria can linger on these surfaces for up to four days. At the hotel, wipe down “high-touch” surfaces like light switches, faucets and remote controls. Still, Pegues’s best advice turns out to be the simplest: “Remember to frequently wash your hands.”

Published as “Ask the Editor” in the March 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.