If you’ve made Noemi Campbell your role model when boarding a flight, we salute you. Aircraft can be notoriously dirty, which shouldn’t come as a surprise when most of them do multiple trips a day and carry hundreds – even thousands – of people.
And yet, not all airlines require you to whip out your hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. Some are actually fairly germ-free and have made a point of making cleanliness one of their top priorities. Don’t take our word for it, but that of Skytrax’s World Airline Awards, the official ranking of the best, worst, and yes, cleanest carriers around.
Among the latter are mostly Asia-based names and a few European ones; Swiss at number 7, Lufthansa at 11, Austrian Airlines at 12, Finnair at 20. No US airline made the cut.
The cleanliness of seats, tables, carpets, cabin panels, and washrooms were all taken into account to determine the final results (rated by fellow travellers!) – so you can have some peace of mind next time you step onto any of these carriers.
The full list is fairly long, but we’ve rounded up the top five. Put your Clorox away, sit back, and relax (just don’t smudge your fingers all over the seat screen).
1. Eva Air
The Taiwanese international airline was named number 1 as the cleanest carrier globally in 2019, moving up from second place in 2018’s rankings.
From spotless seats to squeaky clean lavatories, Eva Air’s planes are cleaned thoroughly both before and during the flight, as the cabin crew often comes round to pick up trash and ensure the level of comfort and hygiene stays high.
Some business class goodie bags even come with a screen cleaner for your laptop or phone, which is a pretty thoughtful touch to ensure your personals stay pristine, too.
2. Japan Airlines
We’re not at all surprised that Japan Airlines comes second as the world’s cleanest airline. The carrier is known for its attention to customers and pretty high standard service, regardless of whether you’re flying coach or business.
Clean carpets, surprise-fee seat pockets (read: no old chewing gum hiding anywhere) and regularly disinfected armrests, tray tables and headrests are routine fixtures of all JAL flights.
3. ANA All Nippon Airways
One more Japanese carrier on the list, ANA was 2018’s top honouree, but number 3 isn’t too bad either.
The carrier prides itself of high hygiene standards on short and long-haul flights, a crumble free environment for passengers of all classes, and regularly sanitised washrooms.
4. Singapore Airlines
We have a soft spot for Singapore Airlines, so seeing it at number 4 made us pretty happy. The carrier (which is ranked second in terms of the world’s best airlines overall) is full of small, cleanliness-driven touches, from immaculate seat areas to blemish-free trays and toilets, but also toothbrushes even for passengers flying economy – because personal hygiene is important, too.
Things like headrests, pillow covers, blankets and bedsheets are always replaced with “fresh sets”, and carpets thoroughly vacuumed pre-flight. You might even consider walking down the aisle in your socks.
5. Asiana Airlines
Number 3 in 2018, the South Korean airline is now ranked fifth in terms of cleanliness, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost its penchant for dirt-free cabins.
Aircraft are scrubbed to a T upon arriving at their destinations, and the cabin crew (whose service, we should notice, is also pretty efficient) is quick to replenish, replace and re-scrub whatever’s needed to ensure a clean environment.