Holiday travel health hazards

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - As you head home from the holidays or take a trip for New Year's Eve, you may find yourself getting sick.  

That's because airplanes and airports are breeding grounds for germs. The germs aren't just in the air, they're lurking on nearly everything you come in contact with.

Flying on a plane packed with people and coming home with a cold is a likely combination this holiday season.

In fact, air travelers have up to a 20% higher chance of getting sick.

Family Nurse Practitioner Patricia Allen says, "Let's say you have 2 or 3 people sick on that airplane. They're going to be breathing out their germs into the same air in the airplane that everyone else is breathing."

The hot zone for germs is two seats behind you, two seats in front of, and two seats beside you.

When you're 30,000 feet in the air, viruses thrive in the low-humidity conditions, in which your body is less effective at fighting infection.

Some bacteria can live for hours on surfaces like tray tables, seat-back pockets, blankets and pillows.

Once you get off the plane, you're not much less at risk.

During the holidays, an average of 1, 200 passengers pass through the Amarillo airport each day. Meaning hundreds of people could take a drink from a water fountain, take a ride down the escalator, and pickup their bags from the carousel. By the time you leave the airport, you've encountered a countless number of germs.

Especially in the security lines where shoes and other belongings are placed in plastic bins that typically don't get cleaned often.

Which is why our airport is doing everything they can to protect you.

Steven Picou with Rick Husband International Airport explains, "The airport is cleaned with a hospital grade disinfectant. In the restrooms we have hands-free devices on the urinals and toilets. We provide people with soap, hand towels, and hand dryers. When they come out they also have hand sanitizer."

While it's impossible to avoid all germs when traveling, drink lots of water and clean your hands often.

When you're on the plane, disinfect the tray table, avoid seat-back pockets, pillows and blankets,  and open your air vent.