Hint: It’s not where you’d think.

Travelling is often not nearly as glamorous as magazines and movies make it out to be. Unless you’re flying first class and have the cash to splash, you’ll most likely be extremely jet-lagged, exposed to rude people and hundreds, if not thousands of sick travellers carrying bacteria and diseases. With the amount of people coming and going from all corners of the world, it’s not surprising there’s an extensive amount of germs at airports and on airplanes.

And to see the extent of just how unhygienic these places really are, the people at had a microbiologist take samples on four different airplanes. Particularly when you see it’s not the bathroom topping the list…

5. Bathroom stall locks


Coming in at number five, bathroom stall locks have around 70 CFUs per square inch. When you consider a public toilet seat has around 170 CFUs, and your hands should be thoroughly washed by the time you reach for the lock to leave the stall, that’s pretty gross stuff.

4. Seatbelt buckles


Safety may be first, but beware; the study found your average seatbelt buckle on a plane has around 230 CFUs per square inch. Yep, that’s more than a public toilet seat, so pop on some hand sanitizer after you’ve buckled up.

3. Lavatory flush button


The average flush button on airplane toilets was found to have 265 CFUs per square inch, so ensure you wash your hands thoroughly post-flush to avoid those invisible nasties.

2. Overhead air vents


Coming in at number two are overhead air vents. Yep, getting yourself some ‘fresh’ air could be doing you more harm than good. With 285 CFUs per square inch, there’s a high chance the reason you got sick on holiday wasn’t because of the recycled air on the plane, but in fact from the time you spent adjusting the vents.

1. Tray tables


And the number one most bacteria riddled surface on your flight? Your humble tray table. With a whopping 2,155 CFUs per square inch, it has almost 80 times the amount of CFUs you’d find on your mobile phone and nearly the same amount you’d find in an average used dog bowl. Eating a meal off your lap never sounded so good.

Images via and

Comment: Are you surprised by these results?