Skift Take

The Today show investigation was small in scope and didn't identify airlines, but the findings about dangerous bacteria on airline tray tables and TSA security bins are alarming, to say the least.

Bring the wipes when going through airport security, and when using airline seat belts and tray tables because they can be a bacterial nightmare.

These were some of the findings of an NBC Today investigation of major airports and airlines in the U.S., a report that suggests that airlines are more concerned with swift turnaround times than healthy aircraft interiors.

Correspondent Jeff Rossen and his team took 13 swabs of airport check-in kiosks, TSA bins in security lanes, airline seat belts, tray tables, arm rests and seat pockets, sent the swab kits to a certified lab, and found that nine were contaminated with dangerous levels of bacteria.

The report [see video embedded below] on hidden germs found fecal matter in a TSA security bin, characterized airline tray tables as “a petrie dish of germs,” and discovered airline seat belts full of “human bacteroides.”

The highest level of bacteria was found on the tray tables, Rossen said.

In the TV report, “The Dirty Truth: Air Travel,” Hollis Gillespie, who worked as a flight attendant for nearly two dozen years, said she’s seen parents change their babies’ diapers on the tray tables.

The report found the carpeting in aircraft to be a mess, and warned passengers to check carefully before reaching into seatback pockets, which can be filled with just about anything.

The report noted that airlines claim they scrub everything down inside aircraft between flights, but that defies credibility given the emphasis on quick turnaround times.


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Tags: health, safety, tsa

Photo credit: Airline tray tables were found to be a "petrie dish of bacteria" in an investigation by the NBC Today show. Dennis Schaal

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