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So is Naomi Campbell a diva, or just plain sensible?

La Campbell’s exploits on boarding a Qatar Airlines flight on her YouTube channel this week were initially met with derision. On boarding, she pulled out a pair of latex gloves and set about blitzing her entire business seating area with anti-bacterial wipes. 

“You clean anything you could possibly touch,” she tells the camera as she proceeds to wipe-down the TV screen, the TV controller, the tray, the armrests and even the overhead air-vent.

“This is what I do on every plane I get on,” she explains. “I don’t care what people think of me.”

She then whips out a bubble-gum pink blanket which she drapes over her seat. And finally she pulls out a black face mask and covers her mouth and nose.

“As much as I travel I should get sick so much more with colds and stuff and I’m blessed that I don’t, and I really think that this helps me, my little routine,” she concludes. 

Bonkers? The behaviour of a diva? Absolutely not. An airline hygiene study by showed that planes are dens of bacteria.

And following a recent flight with my son from Bali, I have to agree. 

Firstly, as we settled into our economy seats, my son pulled down the narrow flip-down shelf with the cupholder located just below the TV screen so he had somewhere to rest his i-phone. Rather worryingly, the space was filled with two empty peanut packets and a handful of stray peanuts and crumbs. A passing air stewardess was diligent in removing everything, but all the same it left me feeling slightly yukky. What else had the cleaners missed?

The second event occurred halfway through our four-hour flight. I stood to queue for a toilet and after a couple of minutes a young chap emerged clutching a bulging sick bag. A hovering air stewardess dived into the loo with a bottle of detergent and occurrences like this are certainly not the fault of the airline, but it did nothing to dislodge the yukky feeling as I attempted to go about my business without touching anything in the stall.

But with flights becoming busier and extremely tight turnaround times, it’s no wonder bits and pieces get overlooked when the cleaners step on board. How long those peanut wrappers would have remained in situ if my son hadn’t flipped that little shelf down is anyone’s guess. 

After the toilet episode, I slunk back to my seat, dug out the ubiquitous wet-wipes (I’m a mother of four, I can’t foresee a time when I will ever travel without a packet of wipes) and gave my tray and that of my son a subtle wipe before the meal was served.

So when I saw UK supermodel Naomi Campbell completely dousing her seat and surrounds with sanitizer, I was silently applauding her for normalizing what I always felt was slightly neurotic-looking behaviour. And when I say wiped, she blitzed everything in site. She donned a pair of latex gloves and with her Dettol-infused wipes she proceeded to clean pretty much everything around her. 

So what do we need to be wary of? According to hygiene reports, it’s the tray table that tends to be the dirtiest surface. The recommendations are that passengers bring a hand sanitiser and don’t let food have any contact with the table. 

The second dirtiest surfaces – and this is quite surprising – were the drinking fountain buttons. 

Other areas for concern included the overhead air vent, the flush on the loo, seatbelt buckles and bathroom locks. Other items worth avoiding include the inflight magazines – they tend to be left in the seat pouch for weeks, sometimes months, at a time, potentially being flicked through by hundreds of not-so-clean hands. Touch-screen entertainment systems also harbour germs, but at least you can wipe then down.

All of which means that Campbell’s cleaning purge, rather than being a mad supermodel neurosis, is actually a very sensible thing to do.

Five in-flight kid-friendly essentials 

A bottle of hand sanitizer. Try child-friendly BabyGanics alcohol-free sanitizer, available from i-herb or Baby Basics ($58 for 250ml).

A packet of antibacterial wipes. No parent worth their salt is ever without a packet of wipes, try Dettol Antibacterial Surface Wipes which are bleach-free, kill 99% of germs and are available from Baby Basics ($35 for 36 sheets). 

A packet of hand and face wipes. Try Dr Browns all-natural Nose and Face Wipes. These baby-friendly, mild wipes are made from plant-based Xylitol which discourages bacteria and are alcohol-free. Available from Baby Central ($45 for 30 wipes).

A travel blanket. The Skip Hop Owl Travel Blanket is a fun accessory that’s a pillow, blanket and cuddly friend all-in-one – plus it’s machine washable. Available from Mothercare ($219).

A treat for mamma. De Mamiel Altitude Oil sprinkled onto a tissue or dotted under your nose will soothe and revive at 30,000 feet. Alternatively, add to a relaxing bath post-flight. Available from with shipping costs to Hong Kong.