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When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Experience 030. Show Notes. Dirty Thirty. COVID-19 and Cleanliness on Airlines. The Seat 1A Podcast.

Mar 31, 2020

Recorded 20 March 2020

Written by: Geoff Dahl & Vinod Viswalingam

Listen to this experience wherever you download your podcasts - including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, Google Podcasts, and Overcast.

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We wanted to extend our best wishes to all those in the industry during these incredibly challenging times for the aviation industry. The entire COVID-19 situation has brought about some strange occurrences.

During this time of global self-isolation, we invite out listeners to go back to our previous experiences – since eventually, planes will start flying again.

We had planned to talk about airline cleanliness in an episode – this has provided us the perfect opportunity.

Remember everyone that an airline is a public space, but that we do expect it to be comfortably clean when we board. How do different airlines groom their planes – outsourced to third parties, or does the crew groom the plane?

When a crew groom the plane what happens? What gets cleaned? What was Vinod's bone of contention that he got so often on flights? Deep cleaning is supposed to happen on a certain cycle. First flights out of the day from Canada to the US lead to interesting discoveries. What about premium cabins? How about carpeting on the plane?

Geoff and Vinod review a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news investigation about the dirtiest surfaces in an airplane. The filthiest location may surprise you and we review the five most filthy locations.

It's not all dirty though. There are airlines that consistently get recognition for their cleanliness.

Airlines do need to deal with different cultural practices where individuals may not be aware of airplane etiquette. And as always - passengers do silly, gross things on flights no matter where in the world. Remember that a plane may be a bit dirtier due to their turnaround time business model.

We share some tips on how to try to stay as clean and sanitary as possible on a flight. There is no need to be paranoid – once again remember it's a public space.

If you have a story about how you are dealing with COVID-19 as a passenger or flight staff, a question, or other experience about airplane cleanliness that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Patreon. Show notes are available online at







  • What's in this experience? [00:00:58]
  • How's Geoff faring in Toronto? [00:01:44]
  • Vinod's view in Vancouver. [00:02:30]
  • What is going to happen? [00:03:20]
  • Flights are empty. [00:04:11]
  • Rescue flights and other strange occurrences. [00:06:02]
  • Some small amount of flights are still occurring. [00:08:12]
  • Invitation for listeners to go back to our previous experiences. [00:09:04]
  • Dirty 30 - cleanliness of airlines and airplanes. [00:10:01]
  • An aircraft is a public space. [00:10:47]
  • You expect an aircraft to be comfortably clean when you board. [00:11:53]
  • Each airline has their own grooming standard, but most are similar. [00:12:27]
  • Outsourced grooming service providers. [00:12:56]
  • Crew cleaning and grooming on low cost carriers. [00:13:11]
  • Crew cleaning may apply when aircraft is parking overnight. [00:13:59]
  • How does a crew cleaning look like? [00:14:17]
  • The things that crews would find during cleaning were incredible. [00:15:10]
  • Diapers - big bone of contention for Vinod. [00:16:35]
  • Children making messes. [00:18:14]
  • What would the crew clean in the cabin? [00:18:40]
  • Trips back from sun destinations sometimes brought an extra disgusting surprise. [00:19:05]
  • If there is an absolute mess, grooming request could be requested. [00:20:55]
  • Staff flying standby have responsibilities. [00:21:33]
  • What does third party grooming look like? [00:22:29]
  • Realities for cleaning may change due to COVID-19. [00:23:14]
  • Deep grooming / deep cleaning is supposed to happen on a certain cycle. [00:23:59]
  • What about first flights out from Canada to US for the day? [00:24:37]
  • Premium cabin cleaning. [00:26:14]
  • Carpets on the aircraft. [00:27:09]
  • Seat cushion replacements when possible. [00:27:56]
  • CBC News investigation of airline cleanliness. [00:28:14]
  • What is the most filthy place on the plane? [00:29:47]
  • You did not wash your hands. [00:31:28]
  • The five filthiest surfaces. [00:32:36]
  • The seatbelt. [00:32:42]
  • Tray tables. [00:33:33]
  • The washroom handle. [00:34:19]
  • The seat pocket. [00:34:38]
  • The headrest. [00:36:03]
  • There are some recognized consistently clean airlines out there as well. [00:37:56]
  • Airlines deal with different cultural practices. [00:40:43]
  • People do silly, gross things on flights around the world. [00:42:22]
  • World's dirtiest airlines - how much is it based on the business model and turnaround time. [00:42:51]
  • Passengershaming photo feeds. [00:43:26]
  • Tips and Tricks [00:44:04]
  • Shoes and socks on flights. [00:44:20]
  • Wiping down seat and tray table. [00:45:20]
  • Steer clear of the hot zones. [00:45:44]
  • Please. Close. The. Lavatory. Door. [00:46:05]
  • Put something on floor before putting your children on the floor. [00:46:54]
  • Your food is coming from a sterilized place. [00:47:32]
  • Generally, aircraft are fine. [00:47:39]
  • Vinod reviews his Air India rant, it was built up old dirt. [00:48:28]
  • No need being paranoid - remember it's a public space. [00:49:02]
  • Drinking on flights as upcoming experience. [00:50:18]
  • Show wrap-up. [00:50:35]