Flight attendants reveal the nasty passenger habit that makes them cringe
- Four flight attendants told Insider they recommend passengers keep their shoes on while flying.
- That mysterious liquid covering the bathroom floor? Odds are it's not just water, they said.
Keeping your shoes on while flying isn't just the courteous thing to do — according to flight attendants, there's a hygienic reason to avoid walking around barefoot on an airplane. Warning: it's pretty gross.
"It's not water that you're seeing on the bathroom floor sometimes," Leysha Perez, a regional flight attendant, told Insider. "It's probably bodily fluids that you're walking in."
While it may be tempting to kick your shoes off on longer flights, four flight attendants told Insider that passengers should avoid going barefoot inside the aircraft. Some have chosen to remain anonymous or omit the name of their airline due to their employers' media policies, but Insider has verified their positions.
"For the love of all things, wear shoes," one flight attendant at a major US airline said, adding that any urine that makes it onto the bathroom floor during turbulence is then tracked up and down the aisle. "Walking throughout the aircraft barefoot or even with socks is disgusting."
Jagdish Khubchandani, a public health professor at New Mexico State University, told The Huffington Post in 2021 that it's "unlikely" the liquid on the floors of airplane bathrooms is just water.
"On long-duration flights, I have noticed people ― often, kids ― walk barefoot towards or into the bathroom," Khubchandani told the outlet. "This is a very unhygienic tendency with potential for infection if someone has skin cuts and injuries on their foot."
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some airlines have increased how often airplane bathrooms are cleaned. Delta, for example, announced in 2020 that it would be adding hand sanitizer stations and hands-free features to its plane bathrooms, which they say are deep-cleaned prior to boarding and wiped down by flight attendants throughout the flight.
One Delta flight attendant went a step further to advise passengers against wearing open-toed shoes like slippers while flying. Rich Henderson, a flight attendant and co-creator of the blog "Two Guys on a Plane" also suggests passengers wear "practical close-toed shoes."
"Airports can be quite large so you may be doing a lot of walking (or running!)" he said. "In some destinations, you may be boarding the plane via stairs or a ramp, so you always want to wear something that'll hold up in a variety of situations."
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