August 4, 2021

How To Avoid Bed Bugs On Planes

Imagine this: You have decided to go on a nice vacation. You have saved your hard-earned money for a plane ticket, and you realize you scored one of the last seats on a crowded flight. You stuff all your belongings into a carry-on just to avoid checked bag fees, you are crossing your fingers in hopes you have not forgotten anything, and do not forget that you had to fight your way through traffic on the way to the airport.

Inside the airport you inch your way through a seemingly endless security line where you forget to take off your belt and are verbally attacked by enthusiastically nonchalant TSA agents. Just in case you did not get your exercise in you have to sprint to catch your flight, but you make it just in time! Whew!

Finally, your bag is stowed overhead, and you can relax as much as you can in your economy seat and enjoy the flight. As you are waiting for your choice of free cookies, pretzels and soda whilst pretending to sleep in attempts to ignore your neighbor, you feel a slight sting in your side, but you ignore it. You are thinking it’s probably just muscle cramps from sitting so long. THEN...It happens again….and again.

In hopes that stretching your legs will help, you interrupt the guy next to you in the middle of his captivating story about his award-winning liver and onions recipe and head to the bathroom. There, you look in the mirror and notice red rashes and as you look closer you think you have bite marks on your side. What the heck is that?!

Surprise! You may have bed bugs.

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Flying any time of the year, especially during the holidays, can be stressful. Although airlines are cutting more corners by reducing legroom, charging for carry-ons, and doing away with inflight meals, there is one guest who may be getting a free ride: Bed bugs.

Bed bugs on airplanes do not share the same level of infamy as bed bugs in hotel rooms, but they are a real problem you may face while traveling. Bed bugs can easily make their way onto a plane through another passenger’s luggage. They can then crawl over to your luggage or take up residence in the upholstery of the seat where they will get to enjoy a free inflight meal (pssssttt you are the main course).

Want to prevent being bitten by bed bugs on a plane? Follow these tips:


Be aware of your surroundings to avoid bed bugs. Obviously, on an airplane (crowded or not) you cannot complete an in-depth inspection of everything. However, you can be aware of signs and do not be afraid to bring potential “symptoms” to the attention of airline staff.



Do not use the complimentary pillows or blankets provided by the airline. They may be harboring bedbugs. Many people bring their own pillows and blankets due to sanitary or comfort reasons so you will blend right in.

Pro Tip: When you exit the plane put your pillow and blanket in a sealable plastic bag in case bed bugs have hitched a ride. Do not open the bag again until you can wash and/or dry the contents on high heat.


To keep bed bugs from biting you or latching onto your belongings, you can cover your seat. You may get a few strange looks from your fellow passengers, but its better than getting ate up by these parasites during the flight.

While these tips are not foolproof, they could and should help you avoid bites while flying.

If you are concerned about bringing bed bugs home as a souvenir, follow these tips:


To keep bed bugs from hitching a ride, put your carry-on items in a sealed plastic bag before putting them under your seat or in the overhead compartment. You’ll likely be the recipient of odd looks for this as well but you won’t have to deal with bed bugs when you get home!


After exiting the airport, keep your luggage and other items sealed in the sealable plastic bag.. If you have additional items that were not protected by plastic, like a checked bag, place those in plastic BEFORE putting them in your car. This will help prevent spreading the infestation to your vehicle.



When you get home, do not bring your bags inside even if it was sealed in plastic. While you may have avoided picking up these parasites at the airport you may have latched on to something prior to that at your hotel, in an uber, train etc. Instead, set your luggage in the garage and be sure to leave it sealed until you are ready to  clean them.


Once you are settled at home, open your luggage, and immediately wash and dry all clothing on “hot” to kill bed bugs. If there are items that cannot be washed but can go in the dryer, dry them on hot as well. If you are not sure whether something can be heated in the dryer, consider freezing it. According to recent studies, when freezing items “a minimum of 23°F (-5°C) must be maintained for at least 5 days” to take care of bed bugs. If your luggage cannot be heated or frozen, store it in sealed plastic bags for approximately 2 weeks and then vacuum it thoroughly inside and out. You might also want to use a stiff brush and hot soapy water to scrub out any cracks and crevices in order to dislodge eggs and dead bed bugs.


Pro Tip: To keep handling possibly infested clothing to a minimum, sort your clothing into separate plastic bags during your trip. For example, all whites in one plastic bag and all darks in another so you can literally just dump each bag into the washer.

If you want to read more tips on avoiding bed bugs check out:

Insects you might find at the beach

If bed bugs do manage to hitch a ride home with you, contact a professional, like those at Complete Pest Control and Wildlife Services, right away before the infestation gets out of control. Addressing problem quickly will save you time, money, and stress. Save money, call now!

Complete Pest Control is a trusted pest control company in the Greater Chicago area. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 2246506474 or through our website, or email.