Marketplace’s airline test methodology

Air Travel

A total of 18 short haul flights were booked with three major airlines, Air Canada, WestJet, and Porter Airlines between Ottawa and Montreal. Flight times varied between the morning, afternoon and evening. Seats were chosen to ensure different areas of the plane would be sampled. Study conductors boarded the aircraft and immediately initiated the protocols.

Surface Sampling

Sterile cotton pads were moistened with sterile distilled water and placed within pouches.


Samples were collected from five high touch surfaces:


Seatbelt buckle

Seat pocket

Tray table

Inside handle of the washroom door.

Pouches were opened and the cotton pads were used to swab the surfaces taking care not to

finger touch the pad during sample collection. Swabs were returned to the pouch after sampling

and sent to the laboratory within 48 hours for microbiological analysis. Samples were compared to a control sample.

Blanket Sampling

Wrapped blankets were obtained from two flights and kept within the original package. They

were transported to the laboratory untouched. Blankets were first inspected visually using black

light to identify any gross contamination from biological fluids. Blankets were then swabbed

with sterile cotton pads moistened with sterile distilled water and then analyzed.

Air Sampling

Upon takeoff, study conductors removed a sterile surgical face mask that was placed over the

nose and mouth. Normal breathing patterns (approximately twenty breaths per minute) were

performed for thirty minutes. Masks were removed and placed into sealable Ziploc bags until

they arrived at the laboratory. As a control, fresh sterile masks were worn in an office

environment for thirty minutes with normal breathing patterns.

Laboratory Analysis of Samples

According to experts, cotton pads and masks were suspended in 30 ml saline and stomached for 60s. Aliquots of the homogenate were diluted 1:10 and plated onto media and subsequently incubated. After the appropriate incubation time, colonies were enumerated and multiplied by

a dilution factor of 300 to calculate an actual concentration in colony forming units (cfu) per