Even in non-pandemic times, many travelers had concerns about plane cabins' cleanliness, and now that airlines are working toward resuming normal service, they’re looking to reassure passengers that the sanitization procedures onboard are up to par. Still, though, travelers have questions – as the popularity of one recent video demonstrates. 

With nearly 300,000 followers on TikTok and another 50,000 on Instagram, plus 33,500 YouTube subscribers, flight attendant Kat Kamalani shares everything from kitchen hacks to baby advice to wholesome pics of her family. But her TikToks on travel tips have garnered thousands, if not millions of views, with subjects like hotel stays and the inner workings of life as a flight attendant proving particularly popular. Her latest success? An oldie but goodie: the nastiest parts on a plane. 

@katkamalani

Flight attendant hack. GROSS things on airplane. ##flightattendants ##fyp ##flightattendantlife ##lifehack ##travelhacks

♬ original sound - Kat Kamalani

Kamalani tells Lonely Planet that she’s been on maternity leave for the past year and hasn’t flown through the pandemic, but she was onboard as a civilian when she had an epiphany. “I was traveling as a passenger and not working a flight and realized how many parts don’t get cleaned,” she says. “If I was a passenger I would want to know what to sanitize!”

Enter: an uber-popular post in which Kamalani outlines the nitty-gritty of airplane hygiene – or lack thereof. “First things first, do not touch the backseat pocket,” she says in the video, adding that they’re cleaned out between flights but not sanitized. Tray tables have been known to double as changing tables, she says; overhead air vents have “seen thousands of hands,” and safety cards detailing what to do in case of an emergency are read by tons of passengers – and not sterilized at all. That seatbelt buckle? “Yeah, just wipe it,” she says. 

“A cleaning crew is assigned to every airport, and in between flights they have a very small amount of time to clean,” Kamalani tells Lonely Planet. “It’s mostly just grabbing trash and cleaning the lavatories.”

"People grossed out about the tray table for a changing table the most,” she continues. “Sometimes lavatories are full and have a line and a baby has a dirty diaper, so the parents change them and place [the diapers] in the seat pocket. It’s gross but it happens.”

While some airlines say they’re cleaning high-touch areas religiously, spraying down cabins with disinfectant and handing out sanitizing wipes as passengers board, others are scaling back on precautionary measures as business picks back up.  If you're flying, check with the relevant airline on their cleaning policies. Here’s how COVID-19 is changing travel

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Ask LP: how do I keep up with changing COVID-19 travel requirements?
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