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A Secret About Those Cheap Earbuds and Headphones You Get on Airplanes

I belong to a species known as “avgeeks,” people who are fascinated by airlines, airports and all aspects of commercial aviation. I swear that if I wasn’t doing this for a living, I’d be a travel agent. And as someone who flies close to 100,000 miles a year, I’ve learned a thing or two about staying healthy.

Tip #1: If they give you a hot towel, think about wiping down your tray table. That could be the dirtiest and most bacteria-infected thing in your immediate vicinity.

Tip #2: The blankets you get are often never laundered. Beware.

Tip #3: Speaking of reusing things without cleaning them, watch out for the foamy things on some of the earbuds and headphones some airlines hand out. Those things are NEVER changed, which means you’re far better off using your own ‘buds or ‘phones. And if you do get a set, make sure you tear the earpieces before you leave the plane so the airline will be forced to replace them. (As an added note, I’ve been told those cheapy earbuds are often sourced from Chinese factories where working conditions aren’t the greatest. They cost as little as ONE CENT USD, too, which is how airlines can afford to (a) sell them for three bucks; or (b) just give them away.)

More secrets direct from airline attendants here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38025 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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