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Bedbugs Again! Hawaii Flight Attendants On Notice

As flight attendants serving Hawaii and elsewhere are asked to be vigilant about bedbugs, passengers should follow the same advice while traveling. This comes after the summer infestation at Honolulu airport and the current one in Paris, France.

Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines are among those on notice from their union to adhere to new procedures in light of concerns about a resurgence of bedbugs.

While the most recent bedbug news was related to Paris, remember that it was only a few months ago that Hawaii last made the bedbug news.

Just this summer, bedbugs even closed some of Honolulu Airport.

When bedbugs infested the Southwest Hawaii terminal at Honolulu Airport, concerns about bedbugs in the realm of Hawaii travel were revisited.

The process of eliminating the bedbugs at the airport proved far more daunting than the Hawaii DOT had anticipated. It took a full month for that issue to be resolved.

The flight attendant’s union warning yesterday included these recommendations:

“Pack disposable latex gloves and a flashlight to search nooks, crannies, and other dark areas. Choose luggage with smooth, hard surfaces. (Fabric, pockets, seams, and flaps provide climbing surfaces and hiding places.)

Hot water laundering and/or normal dryer heat should kill bugs and their eggs. For items that can’t take the heat, isolate them in ziplock (or equivalent) bags. Laptops can go in two-gallon bags.”

Recommendations for hotel stays included the following:

“Keep luggage away from sleep and rest areas; glass tables and luggage racks are best. Plastic is better than wood.
Inspect mattress and box springs for tarlike splotches (excreted blood) and skin fragments shed when bugs go from one stage to the next.

Concentrate on the four mattress corners, corner guards, piping, seams, and labels/tags. Inspect the headboard, but don’t remove it. Doing so risks injury or property damage. Check all nooks and crevices for excreta.

Notify hotel staff if you are bitten or find bugs. Take photos and place bugs in ziplock bags as evidence. Show bugs to hotel staff, but do not give them away. They may prove important in the future.”

Luggage matters. Things we can do to help prevent bedbugs.

Switch from soft-shell luggage to hard-shell suitcases instead. These are harder for bedbugs to hide in, with fewer nooks and crannies. Flight attendants have also been asked to do this. And we’ve done the same thing.

Also, quarantine luggage on your return home. We will now store luggage outside on returning from all trips.

Airlines, too, have had their share of bedbug problems on planes.

American Airlines previously encountered bedbug infestations in their Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 fleets, which led to complaints from both passengers and crew. Crew members on rest breaks reported being bitten, and the use of insecticides even seemed to exacerbate the problems and complaints.

At that point, too, the flight attendants’ union expressed concerns about bedbugs and related crew members’ health issues following the use of crew rest bunks on their aircraft fleet.

Bedbug problems are not unique to any particular airline. In a notable case from last year, a family was covered in bed bug bites after a British Airways flight. These pests are known to affect both first-class and economy-class passengers equally.

The issue of bedbugs in Hawaii travel extends to various modes of transportation, including aircraft, as well as hotels and other locations.

Bedbugs on planes are believed to enter via passengers’ carry-on luggage and eventually end up in aircraft upholstery and carpets. They also may hitch rides in other travelers’ bags, and then infest unsuspecting passengers’ homes, hotels, or vacation rentals.

Consider these bed bug precautions:

Don’t bring luggage directly into your home; instead, leave it in the garage or a sealed plastic bag or bin.

Heat your luggage and its contents after your Hawaii vacation by placing the bags in the sun in a black trash bag or using luggage with a built-in heater. Bedbugs cannot survive high heat.

Immediately launder your clothes using hot cycles after a trip.

Alternatively, freeze the contents of your bags, although the duration required for effectiveness is uncertain.

In crevices, use hot, soapy water and a scrub brush to remove bed bug eggs and bugs, and employ a flashlight to inspect for their presence.

Keep an eye out for live, moving bedbugs, which are tan, red, or brown, oval in shape, and approximately 0.15 inches long.

Bedbugs are more likely to be found on overnight flights when passengers are asleep, and there’s minimal movement or disturbance.

On aircraft, inspect for signs of bugs near cracks and crevices in seats and cushions.

Watch for signs of bed bug bites, including an itchy rash or red bumps.

Bedbugs, scientifically known as Cimex lectularius, possess a beak to penetrate the skin. They inject an anesthetic to prevent detection during feeding and an anticoagulant to keep the blood from clotting.

It’s worth noting that WestJet Canadian Airlines has claimed that their aircraft are cleaned every 24 hours to prevent bedbug infestations.

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18 thoughts on “Bedbugs Again! Hawaii Flight Attendants On Notice”

  1. OMG! This is terrible, scary, nad I am a germ phobe, so will be just so disgusted if they appear. Just like the population that will not get a covid shot, covid still here attacking us. The people bringing these bugs into locations….disgusting!

  2. Aloha,
    We are looking to take a trip to Hawaii. We travel from JFK to HNL (10 hour flight).
    You mention that WestJet Canadian Airlines clean their aircraft every 24 hours.
    How often does Hawaiian Airlines clean (especially for bedbugs) their Wide-Body Airbus?

    1. Hi Guy.

      Thanks for asking. We don’t know about HA or any other airline. If anyone does, we hope they’ll let us know.


    1. If you have traveled thru Honolulu airport you may have seen more than a few homeless sleeping were travelers sit. Just saying

  3. They say bedbugs check in and don’t check out. LOL all you hotels and condo owners and short term rentals. If the airlines have them I guess you could be next.

  4. It’s all on yahoo news,Los Angele s Times that Maui locals are posting signs stating “Fresh out of Aloha”. They don’t want to welcome tourists with Aloha because to the native Hawaiians it means (Alo) Presence and (Ha) means Breathe. They state they want to pass aloha to family and loved ones not tourists. The tourist version is frankly hello and goodbye. Why not do a story on this instead of bedbugs. How did you miss this story?

  5. Aloha!
    Natural oils are the best deterrent to bed bugs. Any natural oil, but the most well received by most people are mint & lavender. The oil can be applied to cotton pads and stuck between mattress & box spring, in pillow cases, anywhere in your home or office that might be exposed.
    Spray luggage with a blend of essential oil & alcohol or witch hazel. You can even place them in your pockets while traveling, or in your neck pillow, in case of an airline seat infestation.
    After inspecting hotel bedding, I either place cotton pads or spray under & around the bed with natural oils.
    Way less invasive than chemicals, and way more effective!

  6. Putting items in a ziploc bag will not kill a bedbug. I’ve seen a bedbug survive for days in a tightly closed screw top cup at a hospital for days. They can go a year without eating.

      1. I store my luggage on the luggage rack and my smaller carryon I place on the ironing board. Bedbugs can’t crawl up the iron legs

  7. I would suggest taking this article and precautions very seriously. Thank you for your timely, accurate information. We have battled bed bugs for over a year, with easily over $1000 in expenses to do so. We are pretty sure they came back with us from Hawaii. The process is miserable, distasteful and can be labor intensive. We read of one person who literally burned his entire bedroom set of furniture, due to the frustration of these stubborn creatures.
    Our best and most effective solution was learned from Green Akers Pest Control, their YouTube videos and a product called Crossfire. Follow the directions and repeat, perhaps several times. This process works, and I hope no one ever needs to utilize it.

  8. Bed bugs are no joke! I got bit 41 times at a hotel! The spots don’t usually show up until a day or two after being bit. They are also saying that you should keep your suitcase in the bathroom because the bed bugs don’t like to crawl on tile. Definitely don’t unpack your suitcase in the house. Wash everything when you get home. Wipe down your suitcase, especially the zipper. Also check your tote bags as well. Better safe than sorry.

  9. Friends have a company that uses dogs to detect bedbugs. When they travel, they carry (not roll) their luggage. It does not touch the ground until they reach their room when the bags are carried (again no rolling) into the bathroom and placed in the bathrub, where it stays unless someone is using the tub, they it stays in the bathroom.

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