How Do They Clean the Inside of a Plane?

Recently I wrote an article on how they wash a plane, so I thought it only fair to provide you with part two: how do they clean the inside of a plane?

Back before COVID-19 had pervaded the air, there were many videos suggesting that commercial airplanes weren’t at all clean or hygienic. CBC’s video was a prime example for it ousted the filthiest spots inside a plane by testing some airlines. Through swabbing disparate surfaces, they found high of levels of mould and pathogens on tray tables, seat pockets and surprisingly headrests, to name a few. CBC inside a lab with Microbiologist discussing the pathogens found.

| © CBC

COVID-Free Type of Clean

The entrance of COVID-19 has made cleanliness on a plane ever more important. The fear of an emerging virus has led many to reflect upon the many germs and viruses they are coming into contact with, especially when on board a plane where pathogens can transmit and multiply in such a confined space.

Who can forget when Naomi Campbell took it to a whole new level? To protect herself from COVID-19, Naomi dressed in full COVID PPE complete with goggles and nitrile gloves. In a separate video she cleans every surface she comes into contact with for instance, the tray tables, her remote control, her tv screen, her headrest, her bags, her whole seat… Name it and she has probably wiped it.

Naomi Campbell in full PPE walking through an airport.
| © Naomi Channel on YouTube

Since the fear of germs and viruses have plagued people’s minds, many airlines started to release and/or reiterate their pledge to safety and hygiene standards coronavirus or not.

In a newly released video, United Airlines says ‘‘Safety is our number one priority at United, and we understand now, more than ever customers want to know what we are doing to keep our aircraft clean.’’ So let’s find out more.

How Do They Clean It?

Most airlines have a team of dedicated cleaning staff who clean straight after landing and/or before the next flight. The cleaning team have the job of cleaning all areas and surfaces of contact such as galleys, lavatories, passenger seats including armrests and tray tables etc. Also, the removal and changing of passenger amenities, such as blankets and pillow linings, and vacuuming up any dust or crumbs from seats and floors.

United Airlines (United) say that they thoroughly wipe down all high-touch surfaces with a high-grade disinfectant; similarly, Emirates say their aircraft is deep cleaned in just over half an hour. The same applies for Qatar.

Emirates crew cleaning high-touch surfaces
| © Emirates

Although some slight changes have been made to the usual routine; for instance, all crew members are to wear masks during the flight, Emirates crew members are now frequently cleaning the lavatories, and there seems to be a big push for HEPA filters that can remove 99.7% of germs – as proven by the Boeing et al experiment.

Qatar even went one step further by producing the Honeywell system – which involves staff holding a UV light device that treats ‘‘both narrow and wide areas on board’’ which can effectively inactivate various bacteria and viruses.

COVID Positive?

What happens if there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 onboard the plane? You’ve guessed it, there will be more cleaning. Airlines such as Emirates says that the aircraft will undergo enhanced cleaning protocols, lasting up to 8 hours. United say that the plane will be immediately taken out of service and sent through a rigorous decontamination process, including washing the ceilings and scrubbing the interior, so only then will a plane be washed on the inside.

United Airlines' plane going through a deep cleanse example.
| © United Airlines

What is more, Emirates offer free, global cover for their passengers should they be infected with COVID-19 during their travel – with medical cover expenses of up to EUR 150,000 and quarantine costs of EUR 100 per day for 14 days.

So there we have it – how do they wash/clean an airplane part 2 finished and complete. It’s fair to say that COVID-19 has led many airlines to reconsider their stance on cleanliness and hygiene onboard an aircraft – given that this is a concern for both passengers and government officials. By creating videos which demonstrate how airlines clean their aircrafts on the inside, not only will this eradicate fears instilled by the coronavirus, but also fears which predated the pandemic – fears that have now been wiped away.

Featured image: | © Emirates 

How far do you agree with the idea that planes are now safer and cleaner than before? Let us know below. 

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Claudia Mok
Claudia Mok
Editor in Chief for Travel Radar: She is experienced at taking creative, analytical approaches to travel, transport and aviation.


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