The dirtiest part of a plane & the world's cleanest airlines

A new study has found that airplanes are dirtier than our homes.
A new study has found that airplanes are dirtier than our homes.
Image: iStock

Delayed flights, bad in-flight meals, annoying fellow passengers, a lack of leg room – these are some of the more common annoyances passengers face when taking a flight without thought about what happened on previous flights.

Think changing nappies on the fold-up tray, not reaching for that barf bag in time or cabin crew discovering a passenger had passed away mid-flight … only once passengers start disembarking.

A study conducted by Travelmath revealed that airports and airplanes are dirtier than your home.

What exactly is dirtiest place in the entire airplane? The tray table you nonchalantly rest your food and drinks and any items you need during your flight on. This makes one wonder exactly how hygienic it is to fly and which airlines are better than most.


Embattled SA Airways (SAA) is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. This time, however, the national carrier of SA welcomes a bit of good news: it has been awarded Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in Africa in Skytrax’s World’s Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness Awards for 2018.

Skytrax, the UK-based consultancy firm and aviation industry reviewer, used passenger ratings on the standards, cleanliness and presentation of tables, seat areas, carpets, cabin panels and washrooms to draw up a list of the cleanest airlines for 2018.

While SAA might be your best bet for travelling across Africa, it failed to make the Top 30 list of cleanest airlines, a list dominated by Asian airlines.

Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) clinched the number one spot, followed by Taiwanese EVA Air, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, Chinese Hainan Airlines and German airline Lufthansa.

Airlines that ranked top for cleanliness in other continents included Air New Zealand in Australasia and the Pacific, Air Canada in North America, Azul Arilines in South America and Swiss International Airlines in Europe.

Next time you prepare for a flight, whether it be on one of Skytrax’s cleanest airlines or any other airline that didn’t make the cut, remember to drop some hand sanitiser and wipes in your carry-on luggage and thoroughly wipe down the surfaces you come in contact with, least of all forgetting your tray table.

For the full list of Top 30 cleanest airlines, visit Skytrax World Airlines Awards.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.