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Do You Know How Filthy Airplanes Really Are?

filthy-airplane

image from Infinite Legroom

We all can imagine how dirty an airplane actually is – hundreds of people a day, sitting around being gross humans, for hours at a time. But as a flight attendant, I’m here to give you the real dirt on how filthy a plane actually is, based on what I’ve seen and heard.

My goal is not to convince you not to fly. I’ve made a fabulous life for myself through this career, and the miracle of flight is just that, a miracle. I’m just here to say, bring a travel hand sanitizer with you, and maybe wear some shoes to the bathroom.

Bodily Fluids

Motion sickness

Image from HuffPo

Let’s start with the simple things like blood, vomit, shit, pee, spit. All of these have been found on the bathroom floor, yet people are still convinced it’s totally acceptable to walk either barefoot, or with socks on into the plane lavatory. I’ve also seen these fluids on the bathroom walls, in the sinks, as well as some accidents that happen in galleys while people are waiting for the restroom. Vomit is most definitely the big one though. On one flight, thunderstorms were so bad, we had to circle Houston airport for 45 minutes. During this time at least one person in every row seemed to have projectile vomited from the turbulence.

There’s no way the cleaners got all of it in every crevice…remember that when you are buckling your seatbelt. I’ve had customers relieve themselves onto their seats, some are elderly, so it’s actually an embarrassing, and sad occurrence. Luckily for them flight attendants are kind, considerate people, and we do our best to make sure we are as gentle as possible when this happens. There are also some people who are not that considerate. One time I did see a cleaner use the same rag on the galley floor, and then on the galley counter. If that cleaner didn’t care, as long as the job looked done, you know there’s more of them like that. Many flight attendants actually re-sanitize the counters in their own method anyways, but the galley floor is right next to the bathroom, so using the same rag is appalling.

The Seat Back Pocket

filthy-airplane-seat-back-pocket

image from Airliners.net

“Excuse me Miss? Someone is snorting something off their Sky Mall magazine, in the window seat next to me.” This actually came out of a passenger’s mouth before, so beware of things possibly contaminated in your seat back pocket. When I was in initial training to become a flight attendant, our instructors actually told us to never reach into a seat back without looking first. This is because people are pigs, and one of the worst things people tend to leave behind in this spot is hypodermic needles. Getting pricked by one by surprise, when you’re reaching for your People magazine, is a sure way to ruin your flight. So really, just being situationally aware of your surroundings, knowing that the plane cleaners may have missed something, and that your seat area has been occupied in the past, by perhaps a questionable person…get those hand wipes out, and ready.

The Mile High Club

flithy-airplane-mile-high-club

image from Backpacker Lee

I’m a firm believer that after 9/11, and probably after this article is published, being a member of the mile high club is not that desirable. You can’t do stupid shit on the plane, it’s pretty simple, also the plane is disgusting. Sex may seem like a quirky, innocent thing to do on an aircraft, but you don’t want to look at all suspicious regardless of what you’re trying to do. That doesn’t mean there isn’t semen found on the plane. A coworker of mine told me a story years ago, that a woman was concerned her boyfriend had been in the bathroom for a long time. The flight attendants knocked on the door, and when no one responded, they unlocked it from the outside to reveal the said boyfriend passed out, sitting on the toilet exposed, with his ejaculation all over himself, and the bathroom. “Yeah that’s the guy I’m looking for…”

Another flight attendant I know told me of an older celebrity, who’s known for her addiction problems, was found in a questionable position, with her hands underneath the first class blanket, of the male passenger seated next to her, whom she just had met. My only experience with this, and the person actually getting caught in the act, was when a disabled passenger began to masturbate in the middle seat. His caretaker was asleep in the aisle seat, and apparently a very uncomfortable woman, traveling alone in the window seat, was able to get herself out of their aisle by creeping over both of them. She let me know the situation, I gave her a cocktail, moved her seat, and had the male flight attendant wake up the caretaker. I had to make a report of this to the captain, who jokingly replied with, “What movie you playing back there?!”

Cultural Differences

filthy-airplane-no-squatting-sign

Spit comes in on international flights, especially to, and from China. A crew member cannot leave a beverage cart, or meal cart open in the galleys, because some passengers see this as an invitation to spit into it. There’s an obvious cultural difference, and hopefully just a misunderstanding, like when many foreign travelers do not lock the lavatories. This now allows people to accidentally walk in on them perhaps squatting, with their feet on the toilets, since they are used to many public restrooms being holes in the ground. Flight attendants have crew rest bunks on certain aircrafts during international trips. I’ve heard of all sorts of bugs, and even dead rodents being found inside airline pillows from crew members. Remember this, next time you ask for a blanket, or pillow.

These are just some fun examples I know off hand to remind the public to wash their hands, be aware of what could have happened where you are seated on a plane, and know that first class does not make a difference when it comes to cleanliness. We are all animals, and some people do dumb things, polluting it all for the rest of us. I haven’t even begun to tell you about how dirty your flight attendants can be, but I’ll save that for the next article.

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Mya Hiclub

Mya Hiclub

I've been a flight attendant for about 10 years. I've seen some things...