We always have a sneaking suspicion that there are things the flight attendants aren't telling us when we hop on a plane. This isn't rooted in paranoia as much as in wanting to know all the secrets and inner workings of the tin cans we fly in.
As you might expect, there's plenty of info about which we're kept in the dark (and some of us actually like it that way...). If you were already not exactly fond of the inherent grossness of travel — having to take off your shoes at security, sitting next to sneezy strangers — the most salient nugget of information might make you even more wary: Apparently, the tray tables you eat on, and put all your stuff on, are beyond disgusting.
"Tray tables are rarely if ever sanitized; do not put food directly on them," writes @dallenhill, who described themselves as a flight attendant.
Another flight attendant, @seeyou_never, said: "DON'T CHANGE YOUR BABY'S DIAPER ON THE TRAY TABLE. This also happens all the time. It's unsanitary and people use the tray table to eat, put their personal things on, etc."
As if that weren't enough, @seeyou_never says they regularly witness bodily-function-type "accidents." "People get nose bleeds, or their wounds open. Obviously when we land, it is thoroughly cleaned. But in flight, our resources are limited."
An experiment conducted by Travel Math confirmed the flight attendants' stories, reports Town & Country. In it, a microbiologist collected 26 samples, from five airports and four flights, to figure out where the dirtiest spots are for travelers. The "winner"? Tray tables, which have more bacteria per square inch than the airplane bathroom.
"There are many things that the cabin crew must attend to, so tray tables are often only cleaned at the end of the day," the study authors pointed out. "This study demonstrates the need for tray tables to be cleaned between flights."
Now you know. Pack your travel-sized hand sanitizer and keep it close. And please, please, please don't change a baby's diaper on your tray table.