Pass the hand sanitizer!

It’s that time of year – flu season. Lots of people out there sniffing, coughing and chugging down Buckleys (it really does taste horrible – but it works!) We are told that keeping clean hands is the first rule so let’s keep passing around the hand sanitizer.

And now coronavirus has been added to the mix and causing havoc in China. Lunar New Year means lots of travel and naturally this makes things more difficult for the Chinese authorities but it is good to see that there is a great deal of international co-operation and transparency from the Chinese officials so hopefully we will be able to get this virus contained.

Thinking about the flu season – and the coronavirus – made me realise what a good idea it is to wipe down your tray table and safety belt. I never do this and I think I should start. I am sure with the quick turnarounds at airports the planes don’t really get a thorough clean. That’s why newer planes are doing away with those disgusting seat pockets. Yuck – have you ever looked inside one of those on an old plane. No? Then don’t!

In comparison when you travel on the highspeed trains in Japan everything is so clean. At the end of the line they have a special cleaning crew that come onto the train with disposable gloves and face masks and they wipe down everywhere! Why can’t we do that with the planes?

I used to be the sort of person who sat on a plane waiting while the plane loaded up and if I noticed someone taking out the antispectic wipes I would be like “omg – really?”. Well turns out that person was smarter than me. Meredith Lapore reported on December 2019

“In addition to the armrest and seatback pocket, you should also worry about the headrest.  Microbiologist Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Files, told Well & Good, “Airplanes have their own microbiome and the most common types are those from human skin, which isn’t surprising considering we’re all constantly shedding bacteria. As for the germiest place? It’s the headrest, where you’ll not only find bacteria, but also yeasts and molds.” He continued, “If it’s a short-haul, you may not have to worry about it, as you’ll have the same exposure as you might in an office building. But as the flights get longer, the microbes on your skin can grow and that can get a bit smelly,” says Tetro. “If you do happen to pick up bacteria or fungi that’s not your own, this may lead to itchiness and bumps on the skin and scalp. ”

OK – so how do we deal with this headrest thing? Seems that it is not just the seat pocket we need to worry about. Not to worry – good old Amazon has us covered –

So you take your own seat cover and it has a tray table kit. Wow! Only 3 left in stock. I must confess I have never seen this but why not? The head rest is the place to be careful of and that makes sense. Maybe I am just going to start wearing a toque on my flights. Might be a bit weird if I was going somewhere really tropical. But those head rests …. mmmmm

So now that I have thoroughly frightened you all into moving into a bubble – where’s your next trip?

C’mon – don’t be a scaredy cat – there’s a big world out there to discover. Just don’t forget the hand sanitizer 🙂

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Oh boy Lesley! That picture of the hair over the seat takes me back to a trip many years ago (when meals were free on the flights). I had just put my tray down and my meal was delivered and the gal in front of me did that!! Yikes!! She was probably getting her hair out of the way to eat her meal! My dear husband shared his with me! (;


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