The focus of this article is around the adjustable headrests on the major airlines. The cloth material headrest is a common material used in coach class for most airlines. Most airlines use a dark interior color scheme which helps to reduce the visibility of wear and tear and in this case the dirtiness of the headrest. The concern is around proper maintenance and cleaning of the cloth material. A similar comparison to the cloth headrest is a household coach with similar material. The coach overtime begins to show wear specifically where a person lays there head time after time. The assumption can be made that airline headrests encounter the same wear and even more depending on the amount of passengers sit in the same seat between cleanings.
Any testing we found was more related to other aspects of an airplane cabin- i.e. seat-back pocket, blankets, headphones. Notice how there has been no testing done to the actual headrest. Imagine what results would be found of something that comes in contact with a passengers face, neck, and hair.
A similar comparison may be someone’s pillow case at a hotel. How open would a hotel guest be to laying their head down on the same pillow case used by hundreds of guests before them?
The leather headrest is a little bit different story in that you would imagine the airline is good about wiping down the leather material after each flight. This assumption could be false in that based upon the opening paragraph. Who is going to clean the leather material- is it the crew, is it the cleaning crew and how much time do they have to clean the headrest before passengers are boarding for the next flight. Many leather / textile manufacturing companies now make leather that has longer durability or stain resistant. It is safe to say that the normal passenger exises many oils through hair and neck to the leather.
Recent research looked at the population of airline adjustable headrests. This includes what airlines, what aircraft models, long range vs short range, low cost carrier or not. Our findings are the adjustable headrest exists in the majority of domestic and international planes.