Travel Sickness


I am sure you have experienced it if you travel by jet airplane very often. You have saved and looked forward to your vacation for quite a while. You feel great when you get on, excited to arrive at your destination. Besides a bit of turbulence, your trip was quite enjoyable. But when you arrive, you start to feel a dry itchy throat, and in the next couple of days you come down with the flu or a cold.

Where could you have picked up these nasty germs. On an airplane, there are several places that you need to be aware of and avoid if possible.


The Airplane Lavatory

This probably is a given. Usually after the movie, or after a mid-flight nap, you have to use the same tiny commode as many others on your flight as well as all the other flights before. Those that clean the airplanes have only a short time to wipe off all the germy places and may have missed a few or many inches. Beware of the door handle. If possible use a tissue or paper towel to open the door. Be sure to use all the paper products available like the toilet seat cover. The toilet flushes with thunderous suction and it can spray water and germs into the air. The CDC has cited the lavatory in an airplane as a major danger area for the spread of germs and disease during the H1N1 flu epidemic. Use the paper towels to close the toilet lids before flushing. It is best to not wash your hands, but as soon as you can return to your seat and use hand sanitizer. According to AARP there is a literal smorgasbord of E. coli and fecal bacteria in an airplane lavatory.


Pillows and Blankets

Unless visibly soiled, the pillows and blankets are often reissued without washing, so you may be cuddling up with some amenities that were drooled on just a flight ago. The Wall Street Journal investigated this issue in 2007 and discovered that airlines clean their blankets every five to 30 days. Just because it is wrapped in plastic does not necessarily mean it is new or clean. In 2000 the Royal Airline Laundry which supplies pillows and blankets to American, United and US Airways was caught repackaging pillows and blankets without cleaning them. Research further showed that there were traces of pseudomonas paucimobilis that can lead to eye infections and Aspergillus niger which can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding and pneumonia. Many of the airlines like Southwest and Alaska Airlines have removed blankets and pillows completely while some other airlines now charge for them. If you are worried about staying warm, wear layers of clothing or buy an inflatable pillow and compact blanket which you can stash in your carry on.

Airplane Water

Did you know that airplane water has been under review by the EPA for traces of E. coli for several years? AARP reports that there was a random sampling of water on several unnamed domestic and international aircraft which tested positive for E. coli. One particular strain of this bacteria is the leading cause of food poisoning in the U.S. If the bottled water runs out on an aircraft, the crew will serve airplane water. Good news - in October 2011, the EPA will standardize stringent disinfection and inspection regulations which should improve and hopefully eradicate this bleak situation. It is suggested that you purchase a bottle of water after you have cleared the security checkpoint. When ordering fluids on the plane, stick to prepackaged liquids and do not use ice from the airplane water supply.


Tray Table

According to flight attendants, the tray table is used for everything from parents changing dirty diapers to kids wiping their boogers on them. It can become a filthy petri dish for many health hazards. A superbug Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Auerus showed up after a University of Arizona researcher tested tray tables from three major airlines in 2007.

Never, ever, eat directly off the surface of a tray table. It is recommended that you take disinfectant wipes with you to clean off your tray table before and after use. Lysol disinfecting wipes is a reliable choice.

Be sure to cover an open cuts with Band-Aids, since the MRSA bug infects through open skin wounds.

Have I scared you enough that you will be more careful on your next flight? Here is one that you may not have thought of.

Your Seat Pocket

Usually when you sit down in your seat, you put your personal items into the seat pocket in front of you so they will be readily available. Think again! You will want to reconsider your routine if you know that cold and flu viruses can survive for hours on fabric and tissues, and even longer on plastic and metal. Toenail clippings, half-eaten hamburgers and dirty diapers are just a few items that get shoved into the seat pockets. Just reading the in-flight magazine can be hazardous if the person before you had the flu. It is suggested that you bring your own magazines and items within a plastic bag for protection. Nasty surprises have been left in the seat pocket and are not always picked up during the quick turn around cleaning that is done before your flight.

More by this Author


Comments 27 comments

elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

Sorry to hear that MarkMAllen15. Hope you have gotten better flying since then. Thanks for your comments.


MarkMAllen15 profile image

MarkMAllen15 5 years ago

Very useful hub. I remembered when I first ride an airplane and I really vomited. That was really disgusting time.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

You are correct in that Tammy L. Staying off airplanes is better for your health in more ways than one, but for some of us who have family who live far away, it is impossible. Thanks for your comments.


Tammy L profile image

Tammy L 5 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

The only guaranteed way to keep from being sick on an airplane is not to get on one. Avoiding airplanes aren't practical for some though. I, myself, have not found a reason to fly.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

Sorry to hear that Kris. Now you know where you might have got the germs that made you sick. Thanks for commenting.


Kris Manley 5 years ago

This Hub is terrific! Great info. There are times when I did return home sick from flying.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

I know Wooded - I had always thought they washed them every time - little did we know... Thanks for your comments.


Wooded 5 years ago

Thank you for the excellent information. I will never ask for one of their pillows or blankets again. Yuck!


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

So sorry to hear that pakclinic. It is true, building up your immune system before traveling is ideal, but not always possible. Hope that you feel better soon. Thanks for commenting.


pakclinic 5 years ago

I just flew back on an airplane. I am now sick... the fist time in more than a year. I tried to be careful, but, I think being confined to such a small area makes it very hard to avoid getting sick. My advice is to build your immune system prior to getting on the aircraft. I was a little run down when I boarded. I think that was my demise.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

You are welcome georgiecarlos. Hope you won't get sick again from the airplane water or ice. Thanks for commenting.


georgiecarlos profile image

georgiecarlos 5 years ago from Philippines

No wonder I always feel sick when I ask for water in the plane. Thanks for the tip!


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

That is good info to have about motion sickness Rose2010. Glad you do not get sick from the germs. You must have a good immune system. Thanks for commenting.


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Hiya Elayne, very useful tips. I don't usually get sick when I fly.. my problem is motion sickness but I just take Gravol for that. Thanks for sharing.

Have a nice day,

Rosie


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

Thanks LianaK. Yeah, I would like to try it too. Thanks for commenting.


LianaK profile image

LianaK 5 years ago

Never heard of nozin before but like the idea. Great hub!


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

You are welcome SUSIE DUZY - glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.


SUSIE DUZY profile image

SUSIE DUZY 5 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

Thanks for good tips.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

Happy trails shogan. Thanks for commenting.

Glad you liked it ImChemist. Cheers and health to you.


ImChemist profile image

ImChemist 5 years ago

amazing information , thanks


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England

Thank you for the tips, elayne001. I hadn't thought so much about it before, but will in the future!


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

So true Hello, hello, - I never thought much about it until now - we are more aware and hopefully more careful.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

I know the hygine in airoplanes are absolutely diabolical and that is putting it mildly.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

Thank you BlissfulWriter for your addition. I have taken Airborne before most flights and I think it does help.

So glad you liked it dallas93444. Be careful up there.

Sorry to hear you are sick. Your advise is appreciate. Yes, I agree that we should also build up our immune system. I should have put that in too, but glad you mentioned it.


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 5 years ago from Utah

I just flew back on an airplane. I am now sick... the fist time in more than a year. I tried to be careful, but, I think being confined to such a small area makes it very hard to avoid getting sick. My advice is to build your immune system prior to getting on the aircraft. I was a little run down when I boarded. I think that was my demise.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Great article. Thanks.


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

It is pretty difficult to avoid all germs. So another good defense against germs is to keep your immune system in tip-top shape with exercise and stress reduction.

There is an over-the-counter supplement called "Airborne" which supposedly boosts your immune system if taken before a flight.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working