Why You Should Always Try to Avoid Drinking Airplane Water


Even cabin crew members are refusing to drink in-flight water

Seeing as how coffee and tea are the few pleasures of flying, why do a so many people refuse to partake in this little comfort?  “[They] will not drink hot water on the plane. They will not drink plain coffee, and they will not drink plain tea.” said a flight attendant.

You may be thinking that boiling the water might get rid of the contaminants, making the hot beverages safe to drink. Well, hold horses! According to a 2013 report by NBC, the water that flight attendants use in airplanes to make the coffee and tea does not come from a bottle. It comes from a tap!

So it seems airline are giving people dirty tap water

In 2004, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) published a press release concerning water found on airplanes. After testing 158 water samples taken from airplanes, they discovered that 13% of them contained coliform. Coliform are bacteria that are found in the digestive tracts of animals – humans included – and human waste. While there wasn’t a lot of these bacteria in the water, the researchers also discovered that the water from 2 of the 158 planes contained harmful E. coli. As a matter of fact, one out of eight planes failed the water safety standards of the EPA.

Even Though the EPA makes sure that the water people drink on airplanes is safe, something which the AFA (Association of Flight Attendants) fought to become a reality in the early 2000s, the AFA believes that these regulations aren’t strict enough or enforced in a sufficient manner. As a matter of fact, “the regulation gives broad discretion to airlines on how often they must test the water and flush the tanks.” Could this be the reason why the cabin crew doesn’t drink the water?

The water is probably contaminated while it is in transit to the airlplane

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study in 2015 that backs up this claim. In the study, scientists say that more microorganisms are present in the vehicles used to transport the water than in the source of the water. When we consider how the water used on airplanes gets to the airplane (i.e., from truck to airplane), the reason why the cabin crew refuses to drink the water becomes quite evident.

If flight attendants are avoiding airplane water, you should do the same!

A well-functioning immune system can fight off some bacteria and all tap water isn’t sterile, according to a Baylor University infectious disease specialist, Dr. Cedric Spak. After all, avoiding water on a flight is not recommended; it is better to remain hydrated for health reasons.

But people with an immune system that is compromised and infants are better off staying away from in-flight beverages that contain airplane water.

Now that you know you can’t drink airplane water, what alternatives do you have?

Depending on the flight length, avoiding drinks all together might not be practical. So we have listed some options that you can work with:

  1. A lot of airports sell water near the gate of departure; buy one of the large bottles of mineral water before you get on your flight.
  2. Assuming the source is a can or bottle, pure tomato juice has a high concentration of vitamin C, which keeps the level of electrolytes raised, and is full of antioxidants as well.
  3. Place some sealed water-heavy vegetables and fruits in you carry-on luggage. It could be whole, liquid or gel-based.

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