Flu or Flew?

By the time you read this I will be on a plane to The Book More Travel Workshop in Charlotte, NC. I am honored to have been asked to be on a panel during the conference.


Of course, after reading and hearing about what is literally, a killer flu season, I wouldn’t get on the plane with out my pack of Steri Wipes. Flu germs can stay active for 1-2 days. That means if the person who sat in your seat, 2 days ago was coming down with the flu, you may receive a gift you didn’t expect.  And if that passenger, sitting near you, who has the flu and didn’t cancel the business meeting or didn’t have travel insurance and is going on vacation anyway, you are a sitting target for those nasty little flu bugs.

Need more info about how serious this virus is? Read this article from the Washington Post. 

Want more details about what to do? Check out what the CDC has to say.

So please, if you have the flu, stay home. It’s not worth endangering your life or spreading the virus to unsuspecting others, especially people who have weak immune systems and are at a higher risk. As my public service announcement, I’m reprinting why you shouldn’t get on the plane without your steri wipes, especially during this dangerous flu season.

Full disclosure

I am not a germ-a-phobe, I don’t use antibacterial soaps.  I think its fine for kids to put dirty fingers in their mouths (it builds their immune systems). I don’t live in a sterilized world. So why would a “not scared of a little dirt” woman NOT get on a plane without her steri wipes (any brand will do)? Because planes are one of the dirtiest places you will encounter.  I have been carrying this little packet in my carry-on for years because I was aware of:

1. Dirty tray tables.  They are never cleaned between flights (Are they ever cleaned???).  My last flight, in business class, had not only red wine rings on the tray table, but crumbs all over it. Ick!!

2. It’s not the air on the plane - Urban legend has it that you get sick from the air on planes.  Not true. The air is filtered.  What gets you sick is when a sick person sneezes or coughs around you. The particles can fly great distances and land on your seat or any part of the area around where you sit.  Multiply that by the number of people who have been on that plane (When was the last time it was wiped down?).  Thinking about that is enough to make you sick.

Now if this isn’t enough to make you a believer, here’s what was revealed on The Today Show

The Today Show is exposing the dirty truth about what germs are lurking on planes and in airports. Taking three different flights across the country, each on a different major airline, their team gathered samples from various stages of the journey including check-in, armrests and toilets with some concerning results.

The first shock — security screening.

Tests of two bins used to collect shoes, bags and other personal belongings that go through the x-ray machine revealed the presence of dangerous bacteria. One bin was found to have fecal matter at levels high enough to make people sick. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency doctor at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital told the show: “We’re talking about skin or soft-tissue infections, which can potentially lead to overwhelming infections in your bloodstream”.

But that’s just the beginning.

Once on the plane, the germ situation isn’t any more comforting. Crumbs on the aisle floors and mysterious stains on the seats had the team questioning how thorough the cleaners were between flights.


The most shocking find was the levels of bacteria found on the tray tables. Covered in germs, one flight attendant recalled seeing them being used as change tables for babies nappies.


While all the armrests came back negative, tests on the seat belts were filthy including one that showed the presence of “human bacteroides”. “These are bacteria that live in our gut and our intestines. These are dangerous bacteria that cause serious infections”, said Glatter.

Another study conducted by Auburn University found that harmful and potentially deadly bacteria like MRSA and E. coli survive for days on arm rests, toilet flush handles, tray tables, window shades, seats and seat pockets.

So how can you prevent picking up one of these dreaded bugs on a plane?

Carry sanitizer and wipe down your tray table before use, wash your hands frequently, don’t walk barefoot on the carpet and check the back seat pocket before use for any nasty leftovers from the previous flight.

For the full report click here

* Reprinted from the August 5, 2014 We Make Travel Easy Newsletter *      

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