Do airlines do enough to keep their aircraft clean?

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  canucklad 6 Oct 2015
at 12:28

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)

  • Anonymous


    I have just come across this article on the BBC about cleanliness in aircraft.
    “How to clean an airliner”.

    Some of the points mentioned are quite obvious, others are less well known.
    Overall should passengers be more vocal in highlighting shortfalls? Should passengers demand complete transparency in cleaning standards priorities and regimes?


    This customer didn’t think so….


    transtraxman –

    Very interesting and thanks for posting.

    As mentioned in the programme, it’s almost an impossible task for the airlines owing to today’s commercial environment.

    I would like to have seen more reference to LCCs as nowadays the cabin staff act as cleaners and their short-haul planes are in service almost every day from 0600 to 2300. How munch time is given over to professional cleaning overnight ?

    And on the subject of toilets it must be noted that airlines both long and short-haul continue to remove some toilets from their planes to free up seating for ever more passengers.

    It means that not only are toilets more intensively used but passengers may not even find sufficient time to queue.

    For example, Air Canada’s HD (high density) B777-300ER provides only six toilets for 398 economy passengers …a ratio of over 60 passengers to one toilet.

    On a six/seven hour transatlantic flight from Montreal would you even
    get to the front of the queue ?


    One of the reasons I posted this was because of the attitudes of both LCCs and legacy airlines.

    Was there not a mention a few months back of an IATA recommendationmn on the maximum passengers per plane. This was really commenting on the tendency to increase seating rows from 9 to 10..No mention was made on the ratio of toilets to passenger numbers. This is of less importance (that does not mean NO importance) on short haul flights as against mid-haul ones. It is especially of importance on long-haul flights – the longer the flight the greater the need.

    On another thread when talking about the benefits of LCCs over legacy airlines due to the number of complaints, cleanliness was little or not talked about. I cannot see how a 190 seat B737 can be adequately cleaned in a 25 mins. turnround except for getting rid of the old magazines and newspapers, and brushing the crumbs on the floor. When these aircraft make eight flights(trajectories) per day that starts to become a worrying issue.

    Thus should there not be some sort of minimum standards laid down by the EU , or even better by IATA? And should not the airlines be obliged to publish cleanliness regimes, targets and customer complaints?

    edited: Why not include other public transport such as regional and long distance trains and buses?


    Hi transtraxman
    This subject definitely falls into the Sausage category… other words, the “Sometimes it better not to know “camp.

    And I’ll go further with the LCC operation Alex…..A thought to ponder, on your next Easyjet/ Ryanair flight……Before you board, the cabin crew have rapidly gone through the cabin, picking up all sorts of stuff left behind, they’ve also handle cash and made sure they’ve checked the little boys room…

    Within a few minutes of taking off, they are now potentially preparing your Panini’s and Ping meals!

    As an aside, I don’t have OCD, but I also open toilet door handles with a tissue, and not just in airplanes. It never ceases to amaze me, how our fellow human beings are so ………….Manky!!
    A junk yard dog has better hygiene habits than a lot of people I’ve come across. And that includes, middle aged men and women wearing Saville Row gear!!
    And on that basis Alex, AC and their steerage class should come with a Hygiene warning !!

    Oh, and don’t get me started on ……. Chewing Gum……Take note Frightmare crew !!


    Interesting Transtraxman. I can’t say I’d ever reflected on the cleaning angle before on LCC flights. The cabin didn’t seem to be noticeably grubby but I didn’t really look.

    Interesting clip here:

    I wonder the extent to which the age of the fleet has an effect on perceptions? For example BA average fleet age at 12.8 years is just over double Easyjet. Does newness compensate for the lack of cleaning? Alternatively would a cleaner working overnight on a newish A319 do a better job than someone working on a 25 year old 747?


    canuckland – Y es I do find it worrying wih the LCCs because their planes are intensively used and full of passengers over an 18 hour day.

    In the past LH staff on short flights used to hand out hand wipes before take off. At the time I wondered why …but now I know. And probably LH no longer does that (maybe still in C class) in order to save money and wastage “for the sake of the environment.”

    SimonS1 – I would have thought the cleaning regimes would be quite different between a short-haul A319 and a long-haul B747.

    Some years back I was inspecting some of the LH planes on the ground at FRA. Our group boarded an empty A340-600 which had still to be cleaned following its overnight arrival from Shanghai.

    The cabin was strewn with rubbish, used newspapers, magazines etc. Out of curioursity I saw a local (Shanghai) newspaper in the business class cabin which I intended to examine until the LH guide warned all of us not to touch anything as the plane had yet to be cleaned/disinfected.


    Quite the point.


    Hot towels for everyone! I seem to remember flying Emirates economy and the crew handing them out frequently.

    Indeed canucklad, sometimes it’s best not to know.

    Generally though, I find aircraft clean and even on longhaul flights the toilets too. Just compare with the airport loos you have used before boarding.

    On a flight to NYC with my mum – it was either UA or AA – she was about to sit down only to find a pair of lonely glasses there. I doubt much attention was paid to that row!


    icenspice – 05/10/2015 15:00 BST

    Hot towels for everyone! I seem to remember flying Emirates economy and the crew handing them out frequently.


    Still standard practice in EK Y.


    When SIA first started flying in the early 1970s it earned a reputation for offering hot towels to all passengers. And these were really moist and hot cloth towels.

    With few exceptions, SE Asian airlines were almost unknown in Europe at that time.

    That paractice for decades.

    Are these hot towels still provided in Y class today ?


    Hot towels might be used or abused, and yes what is done with them after cabin use. However, what I would like to focus on is the following…..

    ….to quote the BBC article I mentioned………

    ……”what can travellers do to minimise our chances of picking up a nasty bug during a flight?” …….” Bring an alcohol-based sanitiser with you”…. “And consider using a paper towel to open the bathroom door”…..”.you may want to use alcohol-based soap to wash your hands again”….”Sanitiser tissues can be used to wipe down tray tables.”

    Therefore, would it not be a good idea for airlines to distribute, at least in first and business class, as part of their commodity kits, gels for hand cleansing and paper towels for “personal hygene”. A small effort produces a massive result., and an excellent selling point.


    Transtraxman, thanks for an interesting article – great stuff, and useful.

    The trouble is, so much of our day-to-day world might be a bit grubby, not just aircraft… I always wonder / worry a bit more about hotels than about aircraft.


    And here’s another sausage thought moment …

    The management of headrest covers…!!
    Any stories of people scratching their napper after a flight !

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