7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Sleep on the Floor of an Airplane

Aug 4, 2019

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.

Traveling can definitely be strenuous, and believe us when we say we understand — especially when you don’t have lounge access before your flight. But in the world of all things aviation, there are certain rules that everyone should follow (unless, of course, you want to end up featured on Passenger Shaming).

The Passenger Shaming Instagram account recently shared a photo of two travelers sleeping on a plane. One passenger was laying horizontally across three seats. The other is lying down on — wait for it — the floor of the airplane. There are plenty of unspoken rules that should almost never be broken during a flight. Among them? Taking off your shoes and socks; clipping your nails; and getting too frisky.

But we have to admit, even we’ve never seen this before:

First of all, there are simply so many things wrong with this photo. Our first question is just, why? And where are her shoes? How did they decide who slept on the seats and who slept on the ground?

Either way, nothing can really justify the willingness of someone to sleep on a floor that has not been cleaned in, well, who knows how long. After seeing this, we may not blame Naomi Campbell for her insane pre-flight cleaning ritual.

Here at TPG, we always want to teach you the best ways to travel, so we are officially advising against this method of sleeping for quite a few reasons.

1. The turn time of a plane determines how much it gets cleaned.

For all our AvGeeks out there, this isn’t really breaking news. A turn time is how long a crew has to turn over the plane from when it lands to when it takes off again. So, while business travelers love those shuttles to and from major cities, we have some bad news: These fast-turnaround flights are most likely the least clean.

2. Flight attendants focus on seats, armchairs and folding trays.

These areas are normally the parts of an aircraft travelers touch directly with their hands. So, you can probably bet the floors are too dirty for your face. Other areas of an airplane to watch out for? Headrests and seatback pockets.

3. Overnight cleans often only include vacuuming.

Taylor Garland, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told TPG that plane carpets are occasionally vacuumed between flights. If that makes you feel comfortable enough to lay your head on the floor, props to you. Personally, I’d need a thorough, deep clean before I even consider resting my face on the floor of a public airplane.

4. Airlines perform ‘deep-cleans’ about once a month.

United reported deep-cleaning every 35 to 55 days, and American every 30 days, according to the Wall Street Journal. When an airline deep-cleans a plane, they sanitize the ceiling, walls, overhead bins and shampoo the floor. I don’t know about you, but I’m really hoping these two individuals knew the airline’s deep-cleaning schedule before boarding.

5. There are no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleaning guidelines.

Yes, you read that correctly. The FAA doesn’t regulate or inspect the cleaning of planes, according to the same WSJ story and USA Today.

6. Sleeping on the floor is also extremely unsafe.

Garland also told TPG that, in the photo, it appears the woman sleeping on the floor may be in an exit row. This means the passenger is, “Blocking egress in an emergency,” Garland said

Adding to the safety issues, Garland pointed out that, “Neither of them appear to be wearing seat belts which could lead to severe injury, especially laying like that, in the event of turbulence.”

7. There are specific products designed to help you sleep in an airplane seat.

Everyone has different sleep patterns, but bringing along products like earplugs, neck pillows and noise-canceling headphones can help you fall asleep no matter where in the world you are. We also enjoy roll-on lavender oil to feel calm and relaxed. We’ve reviewed eight, yes eight, different eye masks and you should always change into comfortable clothes before trying to doze off.

Bottom Line

Sleeping on the floor of an airplane is not only disgusting, but it’s also unsafe. There are plenty of ways to upgrade or book a lie-flat seat for your long-haul flight as well. Come prepared with everything you need to sleep on a plane, and at least attempt to sleep in your seat.

Featured image courtesy of Anouchka/Getty Images

American Express® Green Card

WELCOME OFFER: 30,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: up to $100 annual CLEAR statement credit, up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, 3x points on travel and transit, 3x points on restaurants worldwide

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
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.