EPA Approves Chemical To Disinfect American Airlines Planes, But Only For Flights Departing Texas

A month ago I wrote that United Airlines was looking at spraying Z71 in its passenger cabins to sanitize them with a coating that would last up to a month, continuing to kill viruses.

American Airlines has jumped ahead, receiving approval to apply Alliance BioScience SurfaceWise 2 though only for use in airports in Texas and flights departing Texas. Apparently chemicals are safer in Texas.

The original SurfaceWise has been widely used across Texas hospitals as an anti-bacterial. It was also pre-registered with the EPA as a pesticide. The coating has been re-worked and inactivates 90% of viruses within 10 minutes, and nearly all within an hour. This will help not just with the novel coronavirus, where the primary transmission mechanism is respiratory droplets, but also common cold and flu.

SurfaceWise2′s active ingredient is quaternary ammonium,

The National Institutes of Health has designated quaternary ammonium as asthma-causing and irritable to eyes and skin, flammable and corrosive..Allied BioScience defended its product, saying it “has been demonstrated to have the lowest toxicity level measured by the EPA. It is nontoxic, nonallergenic and contains no volatile organic compounds.”

Since American Airlines only performs electrostatic spraying every 7 days a persistent chemical application is needed (in contrast to other airlines striving to spray between every flight). SurfaceWise 2 will kill viruses for at least a week.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Quaternary ammonium is not meant to be used near humans! It is toxic and causes serious health problems. The fact that the EPA approved it as a pesticide does not mean you can use it on surfaces where people sit and touch. All passengers beware! Read what the CDC has to say about it.

  2. People are using antibacterial wipes on heard surfaces, is there a risk for chemical reactions? Do the wipes wipe away the ‘7-day’ product? Is it safe on the trays that children (and some adults) eat from, on the arm rests and trays that people touch and then touch there eyes/mouth/nose? Many questions, unknown answers, and potential for unintended consequences associated with this decision.

  3. Got an email from AA bragging about this:

    “The highly durable coating remains effective even on high-touch surfaces like seats, tray tables and armrests, and through frequent cleanings, which we do after every flight.”

    On a quick read, that sentence makes it sound like they’re applying this new miracle coating after every flight (and with no mention of being limited to Texas). But on closer examination, it’s not that specific, only saying that they do “frequent cleanings” after every flight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *