As reported by CBS News, the study, conducted by the researchers from the University of Nottingham and Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare collected samples from a variety of surfaces at Finland's Helsinki Vantaa airport during the peak period of seasonal influenza in 2015-16.
The luggage trays contained more of these illness germs than anywhere else in the airport - with none of them being found on toilet surfaces within the building. When you toss your passport, phone, and jacket into the tray, it could be coming into contact with any of the four viruses-including influenza A and rhinovirus (the cause of the common cold)-that the researchers picked up from samples taken from the trays.
The report also commented on the dangers of spreading diseases domestically and internationally, stating: "They have the potential to be especially problematic if a severe pathogen with an indirect transmission mechanism were to pose a threat for global spread".
The study was published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.
Unfortunately, the findings of a recent study suggest one of the most contaminated surfaces in the airport is one you can't avoid: the security screening trays.
His team-partner, virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, added: "The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment".
The results, they said, demonstrated that airports can serve as a potential risk-zone for an "emerging pandemic threat" - a prospect that has already become a major concern in the aftermath of the 2002 SARS outbreak, and the 2014 Ebola epidemic. They wrote that since passengers pay more attention to hygiene and hand washing in the washrooms, there are no respiratory viruses on these surfaces. "People can help to minimise contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times but especially in public places", said study co-author Jonathan Van Tamion in a statement. For the passengers, their best bet is to keep a trusty hand sanitizer with them at all times.