International Travel

Guess what's the biggest germ culprit at the airport?

Guess what's the biggest germ culprit at the airport?

You’re all packed for your overseas holiday and you’re doing a last-minute check before catching a taxi to the airport. Passport? Check. Travel insurance? Check. Hand sanitiser? Wait, what?

Just one more thing to remember

As if packing for a holiday is not stressful enough, now you have to make sure you don’t forget the hand sanitiser when you’re heading to the airport for your overseas trip.

Here’s why.

According to a new study published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal by experts from the University of Nottingham in the UK and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the biggest culprit for spreading germs in airports is the plastic tray where you place your personal items as you pass through security checks.

Yes, you read that right.

Your phone, wallet, keys, laptop, jacket and various other accoutrements have to share a snug, germ-filled receptacle.

The team came to this conclusion after swabbing different surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Helsinki, Finland, during the winter of 2016.

The most common virus detected in the study was the rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold.

There were also traces of the Influenza A virus.

Other germ-filled culprits include shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children’s play areas and even in the air.

One of the study’s authors advises that “people can help minimise contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times but especially in public places.”

Or you can keep a travel-size bottle of hand sanitiser handy and clean your hands every time you touch common surfaces.

Just remember, if you’re bringing a bottle in your carry-on luggage, make sure you adhere to the rules on liquids and gels – the maximum size for each container is 100ml.

Written by Siti Rohani. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.