Dirtiest Spot in an Airplane Is Not Necessarily the Bathroom

The germs are closer than you think.

— -- Frequent fliers don’t even want to sit near the bathroom, much less visit it, when they fly. After all, bathrooms in general are rife with germs and an airplane lav, with its high traffic and tiny space, must be even worse -- or at least that's the perception.

But as it turns out, the germiest spot on a plane might not be the bathroom at all. It’s right in front of you.

Pull out the sanitizing gel and squirt down the tray table if you want to avoid getting sick. According to travel website Travelmath, which sent a microbiologist to take 26 samples from five U.S. airports and four flights, the tray table had more bacteria per square inch than the flush button on the toilet, the overhead air vent and the seatbelt buckle, though those were also considered among the dirtiest spots.

In airports, bathroom stall locks and water fountain buttons should be avoided, according to Travelmath's findings.

In order, the top six germiest places on the way to and during a flight are:

1. Tray table - 2,155 colony-forming units (CFU)/square inch.

2. Drinking fountain buttons - 1,240 CFU/sq. in.

3. Overhead air vent - 285 CFU/sq. in.

4. Lavatory flush button - 265 CFU/sq. in.

5. Seatbelt buckle - 230 CFU/sq. in.

6. Bathroom stall locks - 70 CFU/sq. in.