Yes, Bed Bugs Do Apparently Exist at Airports

The pests shut down three gates at Hawaii's largest airport this week

SEM of bedbug
Bed bugs are hard to spot and can travel for long periods

Of the myriad horrors one can encounter at an airport, it’s never occurred to me that bed bugs might be counted among them. And yet, according to USA Today, earlier this week the Department of Transportation received reports of pests in the E Gates of Terminal 2 at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Hawaii. After a sample of the bugs was given by a Southwest Airlines manager, it was confirmed that they were, in fact, bed bugs.

Consequently, three gates were closed for as many days for deep cleaning, that included “carpet extraction and applying non-toxic pest control spray,” followed by additional cleaning by a pest control company, though no flights were said to be impacted. The DOT hasn’t said where the bugs came from, but — being that more than 70,000 travelers pass through Daniel K. Inouye International every day — is there really any way of knowing? As the USA Today report notes, bed bugs can travel “for long periods of time in the seams of luggage, bedding and clothing.” (Disgusting.)

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That said, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Back in 2018, bed bugs were found in upholstered chairs at the Kansas City International Airport. The critters aren’t contained to the airport, either — there have also been several reports of bed bugs on planes, which has got to be the fastest way to tank your vacation. The same year bed bugs were found at KCI, New Jersey news outlet FOX5NY reported that passengers on an India bound flight from Newark Liberty International Airport were forced to deal with bed bugs, and subsequent bites, for the entirety of the 17 hour flight.

The most unfortunate piece of all of this is, while it’s exceptionally rare, there truly isn’t much you can do where public bed bug infestation preparedness is involved, outside of wearing light colored clothing (so you can spot them on your person quicker) and plastic bagging your belongings inside if your carry-on. (Though, it would, of course, behoove you to do those things.)


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