What Is The Dirtiest Place On An Airplane?

No matter how overbooked a flight might be, one traveler that always lands a spot on the plane is latent regret. Even if you try to ignore it, that regret sometimes pounds the back of your brain like a hyperactive kid vigorously kicking your head rest. One of the times that feeling kicks in is when you realize how utterly disgusting a commercial aircraft can get. For instance, in 2018, passengers using the budget Dutch airline Transavia had to stop and smell the grossness when an elderly man began farting uncontrollably. In fact, the plane made an emergency stop because a fight broke like the wind after two upset passengers confronted the farter, according to The Register.

Even when a traveler doesn't defile the friendly skies with their behind, there's plenty of ickiness on a plane to raise a stink about. A 2018 CBC Marketplace analysis of 18 short-haul flights from three major Canadian airlines and found loose condoms, used tampons, and dirty diapers in the pockets of airplane seats. A microbiologist detected traces of E. coli, yeast, mold, and other unsettling bacteria on almost half the airplane surfaces that were swabbed. Anyone in contact with that half would probably want to have none of it. But what's the filthiest place on a plane?

Heaving on a jet plane

You might assume the airplane bathroom is the dirtiest place in the sky. After all, that's a passenger's number one and number two choice for waste disposal. Plus, loose condoms imply there were trouser snakes on a plane spitting their love venom at some point. So it seems like a pretty safe bet that people were joining the Mile-High Club in the bathroom before those condoms gots deposited in a seat pocket. But you can just flush that assumption down the toilet because according to Forbes, the bathroom ain't it. It gets cleaned regularly because so many unsavory things happen there. Instead, the nastiest place is where the most savory things happen, savory things like eating.

Turns out the seatback tray tables on a plane carry the most bacteria. Travelmath had a microbiologist "collect 26 samples from five airports and four flights" and uncovered that the place where you sit your in-flight meal had more than eight times as many bacteria colony forming units per square inch as the bathroom. As Time  details, the bite-sized nastiness lurking on tray tables includes "cold viruses, human parainfluenza viruses, norovirus (which can cause diarrhea and vomiting) and the superbug MRSA, which causes skin infections." So, bon appetit? Or if you prefer the dirtiness of the bathroom, boner appetit.