With the latest reports of bed bug infestation on planes, the question is raised – how clean are the seats we sit on?

Complaints from travellers have risen in the last few years, with both bites and sightings being reported to the major airlines.  Planes have been grounded and investigations launched, prompting some flight operators to clean up their act and exterminate the problem. However, the consequence of taking a plane out of circulation costs money, so the clean up has not been widely implemented.

It’s not an easy fix either. The problem doesn’t rest solely in the seat material or carpets. These nasty little nibblers are prolific international travellers and can hitch a ride on any luggage. Once stored safely in overhead lockers they have access to the entire plane. It’s not just luggage either. Attracted to body odour and sweat, dirty clothing is a perfect hideout of these minute creepy crawlies.

Renowned for causing a skin rash in a line or zig-zag pattern. Bed bug bites are commonly found on the hands, neck, face, shoulders, legs and arms. Thankfully no disease is transmitted by their bite. However, unfortunately for some, they can cause extremely inflamed, itchy, red or blistered spots.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

Travelers especially worried about bed bugs in any environment can invest in a plastic cover like the Bug Off Seat Cover.  On planes, it is also advisable to take your own blanket and pillow to use and stay eagle-eyed. Once on board, examine your sea. Make sure there is no evidence of dark stains or mobile bugs.

After one of the most recent reports, British Airways were quoted, ‘we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft’. Despite this, the company isn’t named in the Top 20 of the ‘Cleanest Aircraft Cabins’. Available online this resource lets you check before you book. Among the long-haul operators featured in the Top 10 are; Cathay PacificQatar Airways; Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.

How serious is the problem?

For many, the evidence of infestation won’t be apparent until they reach their destination. Then it is a matter of conscience as to whether the incident is reported. However, planes are not the only potential source. Cinema seats, rental car seats, buses, trains, hotels etc., can also be infested.