Airport Security Bins Carry More Viruses Than an Airport Toilet

Sep 5, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It’s no surprise that airports might not be the most hygienic places on earth. From bare feet in the security line to crowded terminal gates, there are plenty of viruses lingering around that you should be mindful of.

When it comes to the dirtiest parts of an airport, though, a new study found that the plastic bins at airport security checkpoints carry the most germs — even more than toilets.

A group of pandemic experts from the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare swabbed a variety of the most-touched surfaces at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL) in Finland during the winter of 2016 and found high concentrations of viruses. They published their findings in the BMC Infectious Disease Journal, and the results will have you packing extra hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your carryon.

Not only were the plastic bins crawling with viruses, the researchers also discovered evidence of viruses on 10% of all the surfaces they tested. These included shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children’s play areas and in the air.

“The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports. The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment,” said Niina Ikonen, a virology expert from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare in a statement.

Rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold, was detected the most. The researchers also found traces of the influenza A virus. Swabs of toilet surfaces did not reveal any respiratory viruses.

“People can help to minimize contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times but especially in public places,” said Jonathan Van Tam, a Professor of Health Protection at the University’s School of Medicine in the statement. “These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people travelling to and from many different parts of the world.”

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.