Article re: blankets on planes -- ick.

Old Jul 19th, 2001, 07:43 AM
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Article re: blankets on planes -- ick.

Trying again in 2 parts:

The Blanket Policy That Isn't: Airlines Differ on Cleaning

By Keith L. Alexander

Wednesday, July 18, 2001; Page E01

Beginning later this month, US Airways will no longer automatically remove the used blankets left behind in passengers' seats and
replace them with cleaned blankets. Instead, the airline has instructed employees to do a visual check of the blanket for any visible
soiling or stains.

In a memo, US Airways told employees to remove and clean blankets that appear to be soiled. Those that look clean are to be
refolded and placed in the overhead bins for use on the next flight. All blankets will be removed and cleaned or replaced after 30

The new policy affects only domestic flights. On international flights, where the blankets tend to be used more often, every used
blanket is replaced daily.

It's easy to speculate that this is a cost-cutting move, but spokesman David Castelveter said the airline is doing it "to be more
consistent with industry standards."

Indeed, airline blanket-cleaning policies vary.

United Airlines' policy is to check its blankets after the last flight of the evening to determine whether they need cleaning.
Otherwise, blankets are cleaned every 14 to 21 days, depending on the size of the plane.

At American Airlines, blankets are checked for stains after each flight and are typically replaced at least every two days,
spokesman Mark Slitt said. They are replaced after every international flight.

Continental seems to be a little more aggressive. Its blankets are checked after each flight for food stains, normal soiling or
"worse," spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said. All of the blankets are removed and cleaned every 2 1/2 days. Blankets are cleaned
after each international flight.

Northwest also replaces its blankets after each segment on international routes. On domestic flights, maintenance workers scan
each blanket after the last flight to see if it needs to be replaced.

Delta Air Lines, the nation's No. 3 airline, declined to comment.

But as the airlines rely on workers to closely examine each blanket, some industry observers wonder whether they have time to do
that, as planes become more crowded and airlines concentrate on quick turnarounds to stay on schedule.

Most planes are on the ground for only about 40 minutes before another group of passengers boards and the plane takes off for its
next destination. During that time, the ground crew is often busy cleaning the plane, collecting trash such as soda cans and
newspapers that were left behind. Examining blankets, some consumer advocates for travelers say, might not be a top priority.

"That's going to be a challenge," said Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project.
Old Jul 19th, 2001, 07:44 AM
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Hudson said his group has done three recent studies of airline cleanliness and found that blankets weren't cleaned thoroughly and
were often left with germs. Hudson said the blankets should be cleaned and packaged "if not after every flight, than at least every

Denise Braxton of Alexandria saw the policies coming. She's been carrying her own blanket on all of her flights that are 40
minutes or longer. Braxton said she began doing that about three years ago when she noticed a flight attendant refold a blanket
and replace it in the overhead bin after it was used by a passenger who sneezed throughout the flight -- often into the blanket.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I just sat there thinking the next passenger who gets that blanket is going to get more than just a
warm feeling."

Delta's Captive Audience: The next time Delta Air Lines serves you a meal or cold sandwich, you might notice a little card
accompanying it. Companies such as Allegra, Sprint and MCI are paying the airline to have their brands marketed on the cards,
which are slightly bigger than a business card. The practice, Delta said, started about 12 years ago but has recently been
expanded. Delta spokesman Russ Williams declined to say how much the airline charges companies. The cards are passed out to
both first-class and coach passenger on all of Delta's North American routes. The cards change each month. American Express is
advertising this month.

United Paging: Trying to make its paging-alert system more attractive, United Airlines has changed it so travelers have to sign up
only once to get paged for each flight. Before, travelers had to sign up for the service whenever they made a reservation. The
system will automatically alert travelers via e-mail whenever their flight is going to be late or canceled.

United was criticized last month by travelers after the airline had to cancel more than 400 flights when a hailstorm in Denver
severely damaged 32 of its planes. Travelers said the airline failed to alert them. One reason, United said, was that many of its
fliers hadn't signed up for the paging system. They can do so on the airline's Web site.

2001 The Washington Post Company
Old Jul 19th, 2001, 09:16 AM
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elitist capatalist germophobes. try travelling 8 hours on African buses like many in this world.
Old Jul 19th, 2001, 09:28 AM
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On my last flight with United when I pulled out the magazine to check the music channels I also pulled out several used Kleenex. I think we have more to worry about than the blankets! How about the pillow covers, and what about putting your head against seat covers? How often are they changed? I think it was a long time ago someone discovered bacteria are invisible to the human eye.
Old Jul 21st, 2001, 03:54 PM
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a recent article in the NY Times about travel hints mentioned that the airplane pillow covers are only rarely changed
the article suggested bringing your own pillowcase on board if this is a matter of concern
Old Jul 21st, 2001, 07:32 PM
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After a severe eye infection I caught from (I'm sure) a pillow on Air France three years ago,I never, ever use the airline pillows, even though I try to sleep during the flight. I roll up my own sweatshirt or jacket or whatever I have, but I don't use the pillow, and if I use the blanket, I don't bring it anywhere near my face. This infection I had was disgusting - an oozing eye for more than 3 weeks - and I KNOW it was from the airline pillow -there was absolutely no other conceivable reason for it. I had to use antibiotic eyedrops that caused me to be blinded for about 30 minutes at a time to get rid of this thing - the worst travel infection I've ever picked up. Bring your own pillow and blankie - we have, ever since.
Old Jul 21st, 2001, 09:40 PM
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An ad for silk pillow covers ($14.95 or thereabouts) got me thinking:
1) make your own silk pillow cover to fit the airplane pillows
2) Remove the pillow's outer covering if you can; in either case, wipe the pillow with anti-bacterial cloths, then fit the silk cover over
3) I figure the blankets on airplanes are no yuckier than those in motels; as long as there is something between it and me (sheets or clothing), I'll survive. I don't pull the blanket up to my chin; that's what sweaters are for.

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