People who come home with a cold after a vacation often blame their fellow passengers on the plane — but as it turns out, it’s actually airports that are probably the culprit. And some are worse than others.

Modern airplanes feature sophisticated air-filtering systems that catch 99.999 percent of germs, but between the walkway handrails and the constant flow of passengers, airports are apparently a hotbed of all sorts of bugs that can make you sick.

And according to MIT researchers, some hubs are more of a petri dish than others. After looking at 40 US airports, the scientists found that New York’s JFK International and the airports in Los Angeles and Honolulu were the three germiest places for travelers.

The researchers said connectivity, traffic and geography are the three elements that determine the role an airport will play in spreading disease. So because Hawaii, for example, is one of the only destinations in the area with enough infrastructure to support a great deal of traffic, it plays host to a lot of people and shares a direct connection to many other well-trafficked hubs — making the risk of disease transmission at its main airport in Honolulu enormous.

[The Atlantic]