This holiday season, if you end up on a flight infested with snakes, like the 2006 action thriller “Snakes on a Plane,” the last thing you’re going to worry about is bacteria that is lurking on tray tables or seats. But since snakes aren’t going to show up on your flight (no one showed at at the movie, either) and Samuel L. Jackson won’t be there to help you get rid of potentially infectious microbes, it’s bacteria in the airline cabin that you should be concerned about.
Most airlines do a pretty good job of keeping passenger jets clean, and the Environmental Protection Agency requires airlines to periodically test for coliform and E. coli bacteria. But considering how many people fly in every cabin, every day, and considering that bacteria can survive for days on an airplane, it’s a good idea to have a plan for dealing with Bacteria on Your Plane.
Always bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer (only 3.4 ounces of carry-on liquid is allowed) and wipes. Use them to clean your hands after touching the seat pocket. Also, wipe down tray tables. You never know when they were last used as a baby-changing station. Sanitize before and after eating meals. In the restroom, super-flush toilets can spew germs (especially on a bumpy flight), so sanitize after you visit. Remember to sanitize kids’ hands, too.
Other smart moves: Accept drinks only from a sealed container. And if you get stuck sitting next to someone who’s sneezing or coughing, create a barrier between you by using the vent airstream from the panel above your seat.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.