Travel Tips

4 Realities of Air Travel, Pt. 1

1 - The Cabin Isn’t as Clean as You Think

Odds are better than even money that your airplane seat pillow, pillow cover, blanket, tray table, and seat were not cleaned, changed or scrubbed for a really long time prior to your arrival to it. Each airline company sets their own guidelines and standards when it comes to how much time is used to clean an airliner after every flight. Each airline company also sets their own budget for airliner cleanliness. Turnover time is very important in the airline business. Every second that a commercial airliner sits on the tarmac is another wasted opportunity to make money for a company. The adjustable tray tables and seat backs in the economy are not cleaned on a regular basis. The bathrooms and kitchen galleys of an airliner usually get a rushed once-over scrubbing, if at all, with strategic on-the-spot vacuuming between flights.

Most airline companies do not share cabin cleaning frequency or specifics. In any respect, the business and first-class sections of an airliner will definitely receive a much more thorough scrubbing than the economy. A lot of airline companies will put off cleaning the economy section for as long as possible. Depending upon the airline company, whether the plane traverses domestic or international routes regularly and the class section of the plane, the frequency of thorough, overall and intensive interior airline cleaning varies. Thorough, overall cleaning includes the ceiling, sidewalls, the entirety of seat cushions on the airliner, and so on. Depending on parameters developed solely by the airline parent company, an airliner’s interior could be thoroughly deep-cleaned once every 30, 55, 90 or 100 days.

All hope is not lost, however. As you settle into your seat, wipe down the tray counter with anti-bacterial wipes. Wash your hands after using the cabin bathroom and touching surfaces. Bring a small hand sanitizer bottle, 3 ounces or less, with you. Be extra cognizant of what you are touching inside the airliner. Something to think about if you ever feel the urge to walk around an airliner cabin while barefoot. (Please don’t do that.)

2 - You Should Only Sleep or Sit in Designated Seats

As a passenger, you should not be sitting or lying on anything that is not your airline seat. Have you ever been on a flight and see people trying to sleep in the aisle or lay down in the foot area in front of an empty row of seats? Well, for one thing, the cabin is not cleaned regularly. Why are you laying on the floor of an airliner cabin? It is inherently not safe to lay down on the floor of an airliner that is in-flight. Airliners fly at speeds up to and over 500 miles per hour. On average, your airliner will probably be flying at 300 or 400 miles per hour. Which means, relatively speaking, you, as a passenger, are also moving at 300 or 400 miles per hour.

If the airliner slows appreciably, encounters rough turbulence, or moves unexpectedly, then you could be jostled or slammed about the cabin. Your body is moving at the same relative speed as the airplane. If you are not seated, with your seatbelt on, then you run the risk of inertia moving your body in a direction other than the plane if the airliner makes unexpected or emergency maneuvers. You can also be seriously injured. Take this for example: Have you ever felt the energy of centrifugal forces pulling you in the opposite direction when you make a sharp, high-speed turn in a car around a corner? Now, imagine the power of that force magnified on the scale of a commercial airliner. Airliners can, without warning, lurch forward or backward, up and down, make an emergency landing or encounter large air pockets of turbulence. In such events, you could be severely injured if you spend all of your time as a passenger frolicking in the aisles, trying to find a spot to lay down or looking for somewhere to sit that isn’t a seat.

Turbulence-related injuries are being reported now more than ever in our social media world. The, “fasten seatbelt,” signs on the ceiling of the cabin are there for a reason. The cabin crew tells you to sit down and fasten your seatbelt for a reason. (No, it is not to annoy you.) Airplane travel is statistically the safest form of travel on Earth. You know that. However, you still have to sit in a seat, fasten your seatbelt and follow cabin crew or pilot instructions as much as possible to make that statement as true as possible.

3 - Airliner Water Tanks Are Not Cleaned Regularly

The water tanks of a commercial airliner, which is the water used for coffee and tea on flights, are not cleaned or disinfected regularly or even ever.  In fact, most commercial airliner water tanks will test positive for the presence of coliform bacterial organisms. Coliform is the general, go-to word to describe a general class of bacterial organisms, from fecal matter bacteria, E. coli, hafnia, Citrobacter, and so forth. Even by the most conservative estimates, anywhere between every 1 in 10 to 1 in 12 commercial airliners will test positive for the presence of coliform bacterial organisms in their water tanks.

These types of bacteria are more likely to cause retching, upset stomachs and the like. It is not a flattering situation in the least. However, the situation can be safely labeled as entirely gross more than imminently, biologically dangerous. Those terms can catastrophically change, however, in the era of Ebola, the Zika virus, and other such epidemically-viable virus and diseases. Airline companies have been mandated to clean water tanks more regularly since the global Ebola outbreak scare. The mandate is not enforced and Airline companies continue their policy of extremely intermittent cleaning schedules. So, you can either buy bottled water at the airport, insist on buying bottled water in-flight or stick to alcohol. (Just kidding on the last part. But not really.)

4 - Let Passengers in Front of You Exit First. You’ll Disembark Faster.

If you are seated in or near the back, you may be one of the first seated, after the elderly and families of course. That would also depend on whether or not seating is accomplished by consecutive row block announcements too. All told, a seat in the back of the plane is no fun when the airliner has finished taxiing to the gate and the plane door is opened. Making a mad dash up the aisle to try to be first in line is impractical, rude and will likely cause chaos. If you are not instructed to go back to your seat, then you will definitely earn the sustained glares of justified resentment from your fellow passengers.

Most flights have an air marshal or similar such clandestine peace-officer on board as well. Why attract their attention? You spent hours in line, checking in and sitting in an airliner flying. You really can’t patiently wait your turn for the extra time needed to disembark the plane in a safe and orderly manner?

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