Flights: How to disinfect your plane seat to beat coronavirus – expert tips to stay safe

Coronavirus may have the potential to be deadly but there are ways to help protect yourself from the virus. Experts have revealed how plane passengers can help fight the spread of coronavirus. The key is to stock up on hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.


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Kelly A. Reynolds, a professor and environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona, explained that it’s easier to protect yourself if you clean your plane seat.

“Coronavirus is actually easy to kill”, Reynolds told The Points Guy.

“Studies have shown that disinfecting wipes and hand sanitisers can kill bacteria and viruses that are much more difficult to kill than coronavirus”.

The tray table should be the first area at your plane seat that you should focus on.

A study by last year showed a tray table had 11.595 germ colony-forming units (CFUs), making it the second dirtiest commonly used area of the plane after the flush button on the toilet seat.

Travellers should wipe these thoroughly down with disinfectant wipes if they want to stay clean.

It’s also worth wiping down the armrests and seatback displays if there are any.

Another area you might want to clean before touching is the bathroom latch as it gets contaminated with faecal bacteria which could make you ill.

If your plane seat is leather you can wipe that down with disinfectant.

However, this cannot be done with upholstered seats. Germaphobes could bring a washable and removable seat cover onboard if they wish to be extra careful.

Tray table and headsets covers are also available for purchase.

Using hand sanitiser is also well worth it – but only do this after you have wiped down your plane seat area.


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It should be noted, though, that hand washing is much more effective than using hand gel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile1-5.

“Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried.”

Sitting in the window seat can also help ward off sickness.

This is because this position results in far less contact with other travellers – as well as cabin crew.

“From studies done on aeroplanes, the best thing is to sit next to the window,” Charles P. Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist and professor of epidemiology and iostatistics, told The Point’s Guy.

“You have less of a chance of picking up an infection from a fellow passenger.

“Meanwhile, you’re more likely to get sick if you have the aisle seat since passengers are always walking by you”. 

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