Can you get Bed Bugs on a Plane?

bed bugs on planes

In this article we will answer the question: Can you get Bed Bugs on a Plane?
When embarking on a journey, whether for business or leisure, most travelers anticipate an array of experiences, from breathtaking sights to memorable encounters. However, among the various aspects of travel, there’s one reality that has recently gained attention: the presence of bed bugs.

These notorious hitchhikers have found their way into airplanes. In this article, we explore the alarming rise of bed bug infestations in planes. But also talking about the potential risks, preventive measures, and how to deal with these unwanted travel companions.


Can you get Bed Bugs on a Plane?

Yes, it is possible to get bed bugs on a plane. Although airplanes are generally cleaned and maintained regularly, they can still be brought onto a plane by passengers or in their luggage.

They are excellent hitchhikers and can easily cling onto clothing, bags, or personal belongings. If a person unknowingly carries bed bugs or their eggs onto an airplane, the insects can hide in the fabric of the seats, carpeting, or other crevices within the aircraft. Once onboard, they can travel from one location to another. As a result, potentially infesting multiple seats or even spreading to other planes if proper precautions are not taken.


What are the Chances of getting Bed Bugs from a Plane?

The chances of getting bed bugs from a plane are relatively low but not impossible. While airplanes can be a potential environment for them to hitch a ride, it’s important to understand that bed bug infestations on planes are relatively rare. Airlines take cleanliness and passenger comfort seriously, and they have protocols in place to prevent and address such pest issues.


What do Flight Companies do to prevent Bed Bugs?

Here are some common practices and protocols employed by airlines to prevent bed bug infestations:

  • Regular cleaning: Airlines follow strict cleaning procedures, which include thorough cleaning of the cabin after each flight. This involves vacuuming seats, carpets, and other areas, as well as disinfecting surfaces to ensure cleanliness and hygiene.
  • Inspection protocols: Airlines implement inspection routines to identify any signs of bed bugs or other pests. This can involve visual inspections conducted by cleaning crews or the assistance of trained professionals who are skilled in detecting indications of infestation.
  • Prompt action: If you report it, airlines will likely take immediate action to address the issue. This may involve isolating and treating the affected area. Contacting pest control professionals, and implementing necessary steps to eliminate the infestation.
  • Collaboration with pest control experts: Airlines often have partnerships with pest control companies to provide regular inspections and treatments. These experts can identify signs of infestation, employ effective eradication methods, and offer guidance on preventive measures.
  • Education and awareness: Flight crews and airline staff may receive training on recognizing the signs of these pests and how to respond to reports from passengers.


How to prevent getting Bed Bugs after Plane Trip?

To minimize the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home after a plane trip, you can take the following precautions:

  • Inspect your luggage: Before leaving the airport, thoroughly inspect your luggage, including both checked and carry-on bags. Look for any signs of bed bugs, such as live insects, eggs, or dark stains. Pay close attention to seams, pockets, and zippers.
  • Keep luggage elevated: Avoid placing your luggage on the floor or on upholstered surfaces while waiting for transportation. Instead, use luggage racks, countertops, or hard, non-upholstered surfaces.
  • Use protective covers: Consider using bed bug-proof luggage encasements or protective covers for your suitcases. These covers will prevent them from entering or escaping from your luggage, providing an additional layer of protection.
  • Launder your clothing: Once you arrive home, launder your clothing from the trip immediately. Use hot water and high heat drying cycles, as they are sensitive to heat and are killed at temperatures above 122°F (50°C). This helps eliminate any potential hitchhiking bed bugs that may have attached themselves to your clothes.
  • Inspect and vacuum your luggage: After unpacking, thoroughly inspect and vacuum your luggage, paying attention to seams, corners, and pockets. Dispose of the vacuum bag or clean the vacuum canister afterward to prevent any captured bugs from reinfesting your home.
  • Keep luggage away from sleeping areas: Store your luggage in a location away from your bedroom or sleeping areas. A garage, basement, or utility room can be suitable areas until you are confident there are no bugs present.
  • Monitor for signs of infestation: Keep an eye out for any signs of bed bugs in your home in the days and weeks following your trip. These signs can include live bugs, molted skins, dark stains on bedding or furniture, or bites on your body.


If you want to find in detail how to avoid bed bugs when you are traveling you could have a look at our article dedicated on Avoiding getting bed bugs while traveling.


How do you tell if Bed Bugs are on a Plane?

Detecting bed bugs on a plane can be challenging as these insects are small, and good at hiding. However, here are some signs that may indicate the presence of bed bugs on an airplane:

  • Bites: If you notice unexplained bites on your body after a flight, particularly in a pattern of clusters or rows, it could be a sign of bed bug bites. Keep in mind that bites alone are not conclusive evidence. Because they can be caused by other insects or factors as well.
  • Live insects: Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color and about the size of an apple seed (around 4-5 mm in length). While they are nocturnal and tend to hide during the day, you may occasionally spot live bugs crawling on seats, armrests, or other surfaces.
  • Fecal stains: They leave behind dark, rust-colored stains or smears on fabrics or upholstery. These stains are their digested blood and may be visible on seats, headrests, or other furniture.
  • Shed skins: As they grow and molt, they shed their exoskeletons, leaving behind translucent, shell-like casings. These discarded skins can often be found in areas where they hide, such as crevices in seats or cracks in upholstery.
  • Musty odor: Some people describe the presence of bed bugs as having a distinct, sweet, musty odor. If you notice an unusual smell in certain areas of the plane, it may be worth investigating further.


What to do if you find a Bed Bug on a Plane?

If you find a bed bug on a plane, it’s important to notify the flight attendants or cabin crew immediately. They are trained to handle such situations and can take appropriate measures to address the issue. Here’s what you should do:

  • Alert the staff: Inform a flight attendant or cabin crew member as soon as you spot a bed bug. Try to capture the insect if possible, using a plastic bag or a tissue, to provide as evidence. If you can’t capture the bug, make sure to describe its appearance to the crew.
  • Follow crew instructions: Cooperate with the crew and follow their instructions. They may need to inspect the area where the bed bug was spotted, as well as adjacent seats or nearby compartments.
  • Provide details: Be prepared to provide details about the exact location where you found the bed bug, such as the seat number or the area of the cabin.
  • Avoid changing seats: While it may be tempting to change seats to distance yourself from the bed bug, it’s generally best to stay in your current seat until the crew addresses the issue. Moving to another seat may inadvertently spread the bugs to a new location.
  • Observe personal belongings: Keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially if you store them near the affected area. This will help ensure that you don’t inadvertently bring any bugs or eggs with you.


Can a Plane company sue when someone brings in Bed Bugs?

While I don’t possess legal expertise, I can offer general information on the subject. Whether a plane or airline can sue an individual for bringing bed bugs onboard would depend on various factors. Which includes the specific circumstances, applicable laws, and jurisdiction. You should consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific situation.

In general, if there is an individual’s action, such as knowingly bringing these pests onto an airplane or failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent the introduction of bed bugs. Which resulted in damages or costs for the airline or other passengers. Then, the airline might have grounds to pursue legal action.

However, successfully suing someone typically requires demonstrating negligence, causation, and damages. Proving negligence may involve showing that the person knew or should have known about the presence of bed bugs. But failed to take appropriate actions. Causation would require linking the infestation to the individual’s actions. Damages would involve quantifying the financial losses incurred by the airline or affected parties.

It’s important to note that Airlines may also have contractual terms and conditions that address such situations.


Should I sue the Flight Company if I got Bed Bugs there?

Whether or not to pursue legal action against a flight company if you believe you contracted bed bugs during your flight is a personal decision that depends on several factors. Here are some points to consider when deciding whether to sue a flight company:

  • Damages: Assess the extent of the damages you have suffered as a result of the bed bug infestation. This can include physical discomfort, medical expenses, property damage, or other financial losses. Evaluating the actual harm caused by the infestation can help determine if legal action is warranted.
  • Negligence: Determine if there was any negligence on the part of the flight company that contributed to the bed bug infestation. Negligence may include failing to maintain a clean and hygienic environment or not taking appropriate measures to prevent or address bed bug issues. Establishing negligence can be a crucial factor in a potential legal case.
  • Evidence: Gather evidence to support your claim, such as photographs of the insects, medical reports documenting any resulting bites or health issues, records of communication with the airline regarding the incident, and any other relevant documentation.
  • Legal advice: Consult with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury or consumer protection law. They can provide guidance on the viability of your case, the strength of your evidence, the applicable laws, and the potential outcomes.
  • Cost and time commitment: Consider the potential costs and time commitment associated with pursuing legal action. Lawsuits can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally draining processes.


Explore alternative options for resolving the issue with the flight company before resorting to a lawsuit. Contact the airline’s customer service or complaint department to express your concerns, provide evidence, and seek a satisfactory resolution. Many companies are willing to address customer complaints and offer compensation or remedies to resolve the situation.


Should Flight Company be financially liable for Damage caused by Bed Bugs?

To establish financial liability, it is generally necessary to demonstrate a direct connection between the flight company’s actions or inactions and the damages suffered. This may involve gathering evidence such as medical reports documenting injuries or health issues, records of communication with the airline, and proof of financial losses.

It’s worth noting that airlines often have terms and conditions outlined in their contracts of carriage or tickets. These may contain limitations of liability or provisions addressing situations like bed bug infestations. It’s important to review these terms and consult legal advice from a professional to understand the specific contractual rights and obligations.



In this article we answered the question: Can you get Bed Bugs on a Plane?
The rise of bed bugs in airplanes highlights the need for travelers to be vigilant and proactive in preventing infestations. By practicing simple preventive measures, such as inspecting seats, using protective covers for luggage, and promptly reporting any bed bugs, we can minimize the spread of these pests. By staying informed and taking appropriate action, we can ensure that our travel experiences remain free from the discomfort and inconvenience of these bloodsuckers.

To learn about the best personal items to travel and avoid getting bed bugs. You can read our dedicated Article on Travel Items to avoid Bed bugs.