18 Things You Should Never Do on an Airplane
Traveling is stressful as it is, so let’s not add the burden of getting sick from the flight to your itinerary. Experts reveal where the germs are hiding and how to stay healthy and comfortable while airborne.
Don’t touch the flush button in the bathroom
Like other public spaces on the plane, the bathroom is also a major place where germs hide out. To protect yourself, wash your hands thoroughly and use a paper towel to press the flush button and open the door. “When you go to the bathroom, the right thing to do is always wash your hands, dry your hands with a towel, and then use the towel to turn off the water and even open up the door,” says Dr. Forest. “You don’t want to not flush the toilet, everyone should flush the toilet, but wash your hands with soapy water and use a towel.” Find out more airplane trivia you’ve always wanted to know.
Don’t fall asleep against the window
You’re not the only one who has had their head pressed against that wall. Who knows who else has breathed, sneezed, coughed against that glass you doze off against while your head’s in the clouds? “I see plenty of people carry Lysol wipes with them that will wipe the area around their seat,” said Ferguson.” If there was a backlight and they could light up a plane with all the germs, I think it would petrify everybody. My rule of thumb, and I never get sick, is I never put my hands in my mouth or near my face.” Seasoned travelers share their 14 secrets to sleeping soundly on an airplane.
Don’t wear shorts
If you can, try to wear clothing that covers skin that could touch your seat. Like other parts of the plane, the seats aren’t cleaned between flights and could be places where germs hide. “I think you have to assume that most surfaces in an airplane are probably no cleaner than, and in most cases not as clean, as any other similar public space simply because they’re not cleaned as often and people are in very tight quarters,” said Morse. “All the normal things we usually deal with, we don’t normally think about when we sit down in shorts in a seat that’s been used by many other people.” Don’t miss these other secrets airlines don’t want you to know.
Don’t feel embarrassed to tell a flight attendant you’re not feeling well
Never think your health and safety is an inconvenience to what may seem like an already stressed flight crew. Flight attendants are trained to help with medical emergencies, even learning how to properly handle a childbirth before becoming certified. “Flight attendants are completely trained,” said Ferguson. “If you’re not feeling well definitely speak up. You don’t want to be sick on a plane—that’s the worst.”
Get stuck with the middle seat
More than half of Americans would rather go to the dentist than get stuck between two of their fellow fliers, according to a 2009 survey by the Global Strategy Group. Alas, sometimes the middle is all that’s left. Boost your chance of escaping it by setting a free alert on expertflyer.com. You select the type of seat you prefer (window or aisle) and your flight number. When a seat that meets your needs opens up, you’ll get an email. Then you can go to the airline’s website and change your assignment. Here are the real reasons behind those weird airplane safety rules.
Don’t neglect your A.M. skin care
Just because you’ll be inside doesn’t mean you can skip sunblock. One small study found that pilots flying for an hour got the same amount of radiation as if they had spent 20 minutes in a tanning bed. You’ll also want to moisturize to prevent parched and itchy skin—an airplane’s pressurized air is notoriously dry. Here are more secrets your airplane pilot won’t tell you.
Don’t fall asleep before takeoff
If you do, it will be harder for you to equalize the pressure in your ears (which you’ll do more quickly if you chew gum or yawn). If you’re prone to flight-induced headaches, hold off on your snooze until your ears pop.
Don’t guzzle a soda
An increase in altitude may cause intestinal gas to expand up to 30 percent, so you might want to avoid consuming carbonated drinks in the clouds. Keep your stomach settled with bottled water. Next, read up on the 20 common airplane myths you need to stop falling for.