When Saffy, Amanda and I first started travelling together, it didn’t take them long to start making fun of my pre-flight routine.
I remember the first flight we ever took. It was from Singapore to Bangkok on Singapore Airlines in Bee Hoon Class.
I was midway wiping down the remote control with my Dettol anti-bacterial wipes when I became aware of two sets of eyes watching me. The air was thick with judgement. I looked up.
“What?” I said.
Saffy’s remarkable bosom inflated as she took a deep breath. “What,” she sighed, “are you doing?”
I looked down. I had a wipe in one hand and the remote control in the other. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m disinfecting the remote control! It’s disgusting. Think of all the millions of unwashed fingers that have pressed the buttons! It might as well be a toilet bowl.”
Amanda cocked her head and stared. “And the fold-up tray?”
“Grubby, sticky hands all over it. These trays are never wiped down!” I told her.
“Now, what are you doing?” Saffy asked.
“The seatbelt is one of the filthiest objects in the plane!”
As much as I was shocking the girls, what amazed me even more was the fact that they were so blithely touching the overhead air-con vent, the TV screen and even the in-flight magazine without any thought of the consequences.
“Honestly,” I said, looking around the cabin with great dissatisfaction, “if I could bring on board a vacuum cleaner I would! These seats are disgusting. I bet they’re never cleaned. And don’t even get me started on these head-rest cloths!”
Saffy sat forward and turned to look at the dinky white square of cloth covering her head-rest. “What about them?”
“How many bazillion heads have rested on them?” I asked darkly. “All their oily scalps. I guarantee you a few will have head-lice, and most people will have dandruff!”
Involuntarily, Saffy reached up and scratched her head. “Okay, I’ll give you this one,” she said, her eyes now travelling around the surfaces on the plane. “I never thought about the head-rest.”
“I have,” Amanda admitted. “Which is why I always fly Singapore Airlines because I know for a fact from a case I was working on once that they change these cloths after every flight. But seriously, listen,” she went on. “I’ve been flying my whole life and touching all these things and I’ve been fine! You’re being so incredibly neurotic. You can’t live in a bubble of cleanliness. You might as well never leave the house!”
I took great pleasure in reminding her of this conversation a few days later when she and Saffy came down with the flu, and I didn’t. “Clearly, you picked something up from the plane!” I said.
“Go away,” Saffy croaked from beneath her duvet, her nose red from blowing an endless stream of thick snot.
For years, the girls have rolled their eyes every time we get on a plane and I pull out the packet of Dettol wipes. But boy, did their tune change when Naomi Campbell recently posted a video of her pre-takeoff routine. For days, that video was played on re-loop as Amanda showed the video to every single person she knew, including our condo’s cleaning lady.
“Look, she puts on these gloves before she starts cleaning!” she told Sharyn.
“Wah, she even wipe the cabin wall. Champion!”
“I know, right?” Amanda sighed. “And I love how she says that people must think she’s crazy, but ‘I don’t care!’ Wow….”
Which, of course, is driving me mad. Because I’ve been doing this for years and getting nothing but strange looks and flak for it. But when Naomi Campbell does it, suddenly, it’s amazing and groundbreaking. Aspirational, even.
“Well, that’s because you’re not a supermodel!” Saffy pointed out. “When a supermodel does it, it makes total sense!”
My biggest takeaway from Naomi’s video is that she actually covers her entire seat with a blanket which she later gets the hotel to hand-wash. Which means that no part of her expensive clothes ever actually touches those grubby, felt seats. Quite frankly, it’s a genius move. I’m amazed I wasted all those years struggling with a solution to the problem. To think I actually contemplated packing a Dyson handheld V7 Trigger Pro into my carry-on when all I needed to do was to bring a blanket.
“She gets it hand-washed!” I repeated to Barney Chen who, of course, immediately went to Takashimaya to get a full length, light-weight blanket for his next flight.
And now that I’ve got the cleaning procedure of the cabin-seat finally sorted out, my next project is working out how to germ-proof the cabin toilet.
“Oh God,” Amanda sighed when I told her.
Photo: TPG News/Click Photos