Verify: Are planes really prone to passing germs?

QUESTION:Are planes really prone to passing germs?


Are planes really prone to passing germs?


There is a chance you may get sick while traveling.


Thousands took to the skies to travel this holiday season and still more people are planning winter getaways in early 2018. Large numbers of people in small spaces could leave you passing more than the first class.

Loading ...

WHAS TV in Louisville asked Norton Healthcare Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Paul Schulz about the transmission of germs.

“Most infections that we pass from person to person aren't passed through and airborne transmission,” Dr. Schulz said, ruling out the popular belief that cabin air recirculation is a contributing factor.

“The thing you would worry about, just like anywhere else you go, and this is the reason you want to be very particular about hand hygiene is the hand contact with other people or inanimate objects on a plane that might be high touch, like the tray tables, the seatbelts, the armrests, the bathroom of course,” Dr. Schulz said.

In fact, according to Travel Math, the tray tables are the dirtiest places on planes. To put it in context, 26 samples from five airports and four flights showed an average of 2,155 colony-forming units per square inch on tray tables. That is compared to only 265 on bathroom flush buttons and 230 on seatbelt buckles.

In conclusion, there is a chance you may get sick while traveling but reducing contact and washing your hands frequently are the best was to reduce your risk of getting sick.


Norton Healthcare - Paul Schulz, M.D.,

Infectious Disease Specialist and System Epidemiologist

Travel Math


Help our journalists VERIFY the news. Do you know someone else we should interview for this story? Did we miss anything in our reporting? Is there another story you'd like us to VERIFY? Click here.