Traveling With Wings: Fliers Seeking Pesticide-Use Data Face Frustration

The DOT's Web site has several flaws.
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No single federal agency oversees airline disinsection, so travelers seeking information on pesticide use on aircraft are mostly left to their own devices. The

Department of Transportation

does maintain as a public resource a

Web site. The data on it, however, is questionable.

India is listed as a country requiring in-flight insecticide use with passengers aboard. Yet

Northwest Airlines


spokesman Doug Killian said his airline uses residual methods of pest control in empty cabins, which satisfies Indian authorities.


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United Airlines

, meanwhile, was still spraying cabin, crew and passengers with aerosols until last week, when it temporarily halted flights to India for unrelated reasons, according to Joe Hopkins, a United spokesman.

The DOT site also lists names, email addresses and telephone numbers of contacts at the various airlines who supposedly have information on disinsection policies. Yet a few called last week by Traveling With Wings seemed surprised to learn their names were posted and referred inquiries to media relations offices.

Last updated December 1998, the site reports the following:

  • Countries requiring the disinsection of all in-bound flights with an aerosol spray while passengers are onboard are Grenada, India, Kiribati, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Panama and American Samoa allow aerosol insecticides to be used on empty planes.
  • Countries requiring the disinsection of all in-bound flights by residual methods are Australia, Barbados, Fiji, Jamaica and New Zealand.
  • The Czech Republic, Indonesia, South Africa, Switzerland and the U.K. require spraying on flights coming from countries affected by contagious diseases.
  • The Web site details Guam's disinsection policies, which are lengthy and vary by time of year. Travelers should consult their travel agents.

Susan C. Schena is an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based freelance writer. She previously worked as an editor at the Albuquerque Tribune and as a reporter for the New Mexico Business Watch and the San Diego Business Journal.