When bad germs happen to good passengers

2014-09-26 15:40
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Cape Town - As the Ebola epidemic appears to be running rampant in West Africa, forcing South Africa to institute a travel ban on all non-citizens coming from the high-risk countries, it leaves you wondering about the bio-hazardous risk of air travel.  

Ebola is just one of the many deadly diseases spread through the exchange of human bodily fluids. To date, the number of infected cases has topped nearly 6 300 people across five West African countries – 44% of them over the past three weeks - and of that 2 917 had died. 

With that in mind, it’s disconcerting to discover that passengers have shared complaints about being subjected to vomit, dry crusty blood stains on their tray table and even a urine soaked seat – which left us wondering about the cleaning procedures of airlines.

According to this traveller's tweet, a local flight from Joburg was delayed when a medical waste container broke, spilling blood around the baggage hold. While short on further details we have to wonder, how often this sort of thing is transported on planes. 

USAtoday.com revealed the accounts of four other passengers and their bio-hazardous experience.  

Also see: PICS: Shameless people on planes

The report states newly-wed couple Ryan Karas and Lindsi Stinson, who both have jobs in emergency medicine, were en-route from Phoenix to Kauai when they spotted dried blood on their seat-backs on board a US Airlines flight. 

But the flight attendant’s response after they reported the situation seems even as appalling, since they simply expressed disgust and walked away without cleaning it up.
According to the report, US Airways has launched an "internal investigation" into the matter. 

Another passenger, Angela Rauen, on an American Airlines flight, found herself sitting in a urine-soaked seat. Urggh! This incident ended slightly better as the attendant who handled her complaint had the good sense to re-seat her. 

But can you imagine sticking your hand into somebody else’s up-chuck?! 

This was the dire situation faced by Linda Cannon, on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Las Vegas. Despite, cabin crew attempting to clean it up, she reportedly sat through the 3-and-a-half-hour flight with bits of vomit still splattered all over the place. 

While the risks of contracting Ebola through air travel are not the same as contracting the flu for instance, situations such as these leave you wondering about how planes are cleaned, but more importantly - how often?

We contacted a number of airlines who operate locally asking them to clarify the process, with British Airways being the only airline to respond. 

The airline said in an email statement that it has extremely high standards when it comes to the cleanliness of its aircraft.

“All of our aircraft are thoroughly cleaned after each and every flight, including the seats, tray tables and aircraft toilets,” spokesperson Stephen Forbes said. 

“The pillows, blankets and duvets we provide to customers on our long-haul services are replaced after each flight.

“We work with our cleaning providers to carry out regular audits, making sure our high standards are maintained.”

Have you had any bad experiences on board a flight, tell us about it in the comment section below or email info@traveller24.com.

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