With holiday travel back in full swing, you’ve probably noticed that your flights home are just as packed as they’ve ever been, if not more so. But whether your trip is a mere two hours or a whopping 14, you should try to make your flight as comfortable as possible. Flight attendants will do their best to aid you in that pursuit: From a can of soda to a pair of headphones, they offer everything that they can to make sure that passengers have a smooth ride. At the same time, there are some in-flight amenities that you shouldn’t take advantage of. According to flight attendants, if you’re offered certain items on a plane, you’re better off turning them down. Read on to find out what you should just say no to.
Once you board a plane, you may be in for quite a long flight, depending on your destination. To make yourself comfortable for the next however many hours, you might want to make use of some of the amenities being offered to you, including the complimentary pillows and blankets that are often left on your seat. However, you should think twice before getting cozy with these items. In a 2019 interview with Inside Edition, flight attendant Jamila Hardwick revealed that you should never use the blankets and pillows that are on a plane.
“Bring your own,” she said. “These [blankets] get washed, but we’re not sure how great they get washed, right. Same for the pillows.”
The pillows and blankets provided for you aren’t cleaned nearly as often as you’d think. Flight attendant Linda Ferguson told Business Insider in 2018 that these items are reused from flight to flight, without being properly washed until the day is over. So, if you’re on the very first flight of the day, you’re more likely to be supplied with freshly cleaned pillows and blankets. However, if you’re not, these items can essentially become an easy way for germs from another passenger to be passed onto you.
“I see people wrap their feet in the blankets, I see people sneeze in the blankets,” Ferguson said.
Pillows, like the neck ones, are sometimes changed in between flights, but only to a certain extent. Airlines “will take the lining off the pillow and give you a new one,” Hardwick added. “But you still have the pillow in there that’s dirty.”
For every airline, there’s a different blanket and pillow policy. If you’re someone who travels a lot, you may have noticed that some airlines don’t offer you these items at all, unless you buy them. For example, JetBlue notes on their site that if you want a pillow or blanket for your flight, you have to pay $6 for each item. If you do buy them, however, you’re in the clear when it comes to germs, since no one else has used them.
Delta Airlines notes on their website that they offer free pillows and blankets to passengers, but only for long international flights. They emphasize that they have a cleaning policy for these items as well. “Rest assured all blankets and bedding are laundered after every flight and Main Cabin pillows disposed of after use,” their site states.
Pillows and blankets aren’t the only unsanitary items on your flight. In July, flight attendant Tommy Cimato detailed the dirtiest spots on airplanes in a TikTok video. He explains that passengers should not fall asleep or lean their heads on the window because “you’re not the only one who has done that.” And you never know how many people have wiped their hands on your makeshift pillow.
Cimato also recommends that when going to the bathroom, you never touch the flush button or lever with your hands. Since you don’t know what germs could be there, use a napkin or tissue to flush instead.