Let’s be honest; nobody really loves flying. For most people, it’s a necessity to meet the cross-country business client, it’s a handy way to travel to your next vacation spot, or it’s just an excuse to get out of another 9-hour drive. For us, flying is quicker. And because there is such a high demand, airlines and airports rush to turn their flights around as quickly as possible. This means cabin crew and cleaners may have as little as 30 minutes to get their plane spick and span before the next customers climb on board. Unless they’re a speedy cleaner (lucky you) this may be pretty difficult, leaving our plane seats pretty dirty. But which ones are the dirtiest and why?
First class perks
It’s no secret that the service in the first class area of the plane is…well, First Class! With extra space, delicious food, exceptional service and more… First Class is definitely the place to be if you can afford it. However, it turns out that First Class has another perk – the cleanest seats on the plane. Because airlines pride themselves on their First Class areas and hope for more and more customers to upgrade to and maintain their First Class status, they spend more time cleaning these areas than they do the economy areas. During their quick turnaround, premium seats always receive a quick once-over with a vacuum, and they also make sure they wipe each window and tray table with a sanitary wipe after each flight. The rich guys get all the perks, ey?
Unfortunately, those who can’t afford First Class seats have to sit in economy – with the dirtier seats. Many airlines have confirmed that they spend a significantly shorter time tending to the seats in this part of the plane. Because of the sometimes short turn-around, cabin crew and cleaners will only undertake basic cleaning routines. For shorter turnarounds, the cleaning team members will remove the obvious trash that adorns the floors and seats, will give the toilets a quick once-over, will wipe large crumbs off the economy seats, and restock all of their dwindling supplies. However, they do not have time to probe each individual seat, which is why you may often find a coffee ring stain on your tray table or a candy wrapper in your seatback pockets. If the plane and cleaning crew have longer to get the plane ready for their next passengers, they may vacuum the floor, and empty these pockets, but that is it.
So what don’t they clean?
Nobody really likes using the plane toilets, but sometimes this just can’t be avoided! However, when you go to use the bathroom, you’d like to think of it being freshly cleaned, and the waste tank is emptied. Nope, this doesn’t happen. Because of the size of waste tanks, planes can often fly numerous short-haul flights before the waste tank needs emptying – which could be the reason there’s always that slightly unsavory smell permeating from the toilet. Alongside this, the tray tables and armrests are left uncleaned. A recent study of plane bacteria has found that the dirtiest place on an airplane is the tray table in front of you, with the remains of numerous food products and bacteria from other people before you. Yummy!
The deep clean
Once a plane settles down for the night, large-scale cleaning crews come to clean the plane properly, from top to bottom. During this night-clean, they wipe down all of the entertainment systems and screens, the tray tables, the armrests and even empty out the seat pockets AND vacuum the floors and chairs. These crews also replace all of the pillows and blankets on board, and thoroughly clean and disinfect the toilet and the galleys.
So if you want the cleanest plane and the cleanest seat, the first flight of the day will be your best bet…Especially if you get the joy of flying First Class.