I am amazed how fast airlines can turn a plane, that is, get passengers off, exchange crews often times, get all the bags off and then reverse the process at boarding. When a flight is late inbound this process goes into over drive and I am happy all I have to do is watch from the comfort of my seat and be impressed.
But one thing that grosses me out is when things hit the floor. As an example, and I am sure you have seen it as well, on regional jets many times the bins (for lack of a better word) are tossed in by catering and then the crews load them into the carts.
I mean that floor is the same floor that those exiting the lavatory have just walked on with their shoes (at least I hope shoes not barefoot).
This makes me want to bring a wet wipe and clean off the tops of the soda cans before they pour them but most times in first class you do not get the can and the flight attendant will pour your drink in the galley and then bring it to you. Oh and many times the tray that held all the glass ware you are now holding was also at some point on the floor before being loaded into the cart. And NO! The 5 Second Rule does not apply here!
From a flight attendant’s point of view I get that galleys are appallingly small nowadays with airlines wanting to stick as many seats as is physically possible on every jet and the only place to rob inches from is either lavatories or the galleys. Thus their working space is so small and cramped that the floor may be the only place to put anything with moving bins around.
Is there a solution? One would think so. I am surprised some brilliant jet interiors engineer has not come up with some kind of fold out table, with legs, that could keep things off the floor and in a more sanitary environment.
Now as I opened this post with I may be way overboard on this one and going all Monk freak out mode but this just bugs me and it seems many airlines are guilty of this kind of behavior. You tell me is this something that bothers you too or am I out in left field on this one? – René
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I’ve been an airline station manager and had FDA inspections. They test the potable water carts as well as the filling points and inspect all of the above (like if the water comes from a cabinet on the building that the end of the hose isn’t resting in a pool of water at the bottom, agents aren’t servicing lavatories and water at same time, changing gloves, etc). They do go on the aircraft too – each airplane has a certificate of sanitary conditions/construction for food prep (or some other specific name). That’s why you hear the old airline half-joke about how nobody ever expires on the airplane – they always die on the jetway. If a passenger or anyone moves on from this life on the plane it’s roughly equivalent to someone dropping dead in the kitchen of a restaurant.
They also like to observe catering and what touches the floor. Bags of ice touching any unclean surface is a huge no-no and will be a failure. Same with using a cup as an ice scoop, putting bottles of beer up against ice bags, etc. I believe technically closed cans in a carrier are fine to touch the floor, but not if opened. The floors are technically sanitized, usually daily, but keep in mind sanitized and clean of dirt are two separate things.
Regional jets like you highlight are an issue because of the nature of the galleys and not swapping full carts (and cart cleaning is inspected too at the catering facility). Same with Southwest Airlines who doesn’t use carts and caters individual sodas into cabinets. Ideally there would be two people and they would remove the old carriers trays first, then hand over the new ones and replace. I think this situation looks worse than it is, but just like a soda you buy at a gas station I wouldn’t put my mouth on any part of the bottle that wasn’t under seal.
It doesn’t help the hygiene situation on the current flight, but all of the carts and “bins” are run through a sterilization machine in the catering facilities after being unloaded and before being re-loaded (at least with Delta). Delta had a video from their new catering facility in partnership with Newrest in Atlanta that showed how this works.
Rene, I’m somewhat surprised that you have not seen a barefoot person go into an aircraft restroom. I see it from time to time. Male and female. I’m always tempted to ask these people whether they noticed the pee on the floor . . . that they were standing in. Holy smokes. Tangentially, if you knew the hygiene practices at ANY fast food outlet, you’d never patronize one again. McDonald’s, Chipotle, etc. Filthy, disgusting pigs.
@Lee – You mean like this one (shudder)! So sick!
I’m a million miler on Delta. I often felt queasy after flying. A few years back I read the story about ice and airplanes so I stopped getting ice in drinks. I later decided that after going through security I should get my own water or drinks to bring on the plane. Since I’ve been doing that, my stomach hasn’t once had travel queasiness I commonly used to experience after flights even though I’ve been on some very rough flights. For me it’s a small price to pay for feeling well after flying. (Yeah I don’t drink alcohol.)
Rene’s House of fine Hazmat Suits is now open for online orders! …
I have always wondered when reading such posts if any consideration is given to the cleanliness of the telephone/cellular phone that is being used many hours of the day. After all, the cell phone comes in contact with EVERY object, surface, and person that the authors of such posts hold up within millimeters of their mouths, noses, ears, and faces in general. One would think that the odds of yuk transfer would increase dramatically more with a cell phone. For example using the cell phone to make photographs of various BBQ dishes (for a future blog post) about to be devoured, when placed on the table and the hands immediately grab the BBQ and hold up to the mouth!(mmmmm ….. Ribs) With some degree of finger licking for that last bit of sauce. For that matter BBQ Joints are not really that sanitary?
But I stray from the original subject of cleanliness and the galley floors which are connected in close proximity to the lav floors. OMG! That’s it! The river of wee wee flowing out of the lav that comes from the fact that every guy using the lav cannot seem to get all fluids into the bowl!
@Mongo – Oh I sanitize my cell phone all the time with wipes! 🙂