Flight secrets: Cabin crew member reveals how often food trays are really cleaned

Food trays are used by many different people on a daily basis when flying and are often not cleaned as much as you’d like. Cabin crew members have previously revealed how dirty different places are on an aeroplane and many might be surprised to know that the toilet isn’t the dirtiest area.


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Due to the short turnaround between flights, cleaning on a plane has to be done at high speed.

Therefore this means that certain areas of the plane do not get cleaned thoroughly or even at all.

One airline insider has revealed that it probably isn’t a good idea to eat directly off of food trays and you should probably bring your own cleaning products too.

Former flight attendant for America’s Southwest Airlines explained that you should always carry antibacterial wipes and wipe down the tray before you use it.

A study by Auburn University found that the tray table was the second highest carrier of E.coli in the plane cabin, with the disease festering for 72 hours.

The best thing to do when leaving an airplane is to wash your hands to get rid of any germs because E.coli can live on surfaces for many hours.

The cabin crew member said: “I would always encourage passengers to sanitise their tray tables and other surfaces before take off.

“I have seen passengers change their baby’s nappy on the tray table, and cut their fingernails on board.”

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Another study found tray tables on various planes had a high bacteria level.

Some tray tables were the worst area on the plane for bugs, even worse than the toilet.

Next time you think about putting food directly onto the plane tray table, you may want to think again.

While airline staff do clean the cabin between flights, this is primarily cleaning up rubbish. They don’t have the time to sanitise and wipe down every tray on the plane between flights.


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Most airlines don’t share how often they clean the interior of the planes so you should always bring some wipes in your hand luggage.

You might also want to miss putting your belongings in the seat pocket in front of you as studies have revealed that they are also one of the germ infested areas on an airplane with one study proving it was the dirtiest area on the plane.

Another flight attendant also urged passengers to bring their own pillows and blankets.

Apparently the only deep-clean on planes happens overnight and some airlines even re-use their blankets without washing them.

Sara Keagle, flight attendant and founder of aviation blog TheFlyingPinto said that in the economy part of the plane blankets are re-used.

She says that clean blankets are only given to the first flight of the day.

After that they could just be folded and used again and again.

Unless they are visibly dirt, plane pillows and blankets could be used for every single flight of that day and many more days to come.

One research study found that airline blankets had traces of Pseudomonas paucimobilis, known for causing lung and eye infections.

Another study on an airplane blanket that had been wrapped in plastic was found to hold yeast, mould and high counts of bacteria.

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