Why You Don’t Want to Drink This on Planes

Airlines have really been catching it in the media in recent months regarding customer treatment on flights. But the one thing that’s been a consistent topic of discussion is airplane food and drink.

Complimentary beverage offerings are typically water, soft drinks, coffee, or tea. All of these choices sound great when you’re thirsty and wouldn’t mind a creature comfort or two during your ride. If you’re in for a long flight, a warm drink like tea or coffee might hit the spot.

You might want to hold your horses on that though. Flight attendants know better than to drink it themselves. There’s something in the water that you don’t want to taste in your cup o’ joe. Airplane tap water comes from tanks that house potable water.

Notoriously difficult to clean – if they’re cleaned at all – the tanks typically still contain sediment after being flushed. That’s not all. Here in the U.S., a 2004 EPA investigation discovered a number of contaminants in 1 out of 10 planes. Among them was coliform, harmful bacteria found in feces and sewage. A follow up test made the rounds in the news in 2013 when several airlines tested positive again.

Pictures obtained from the FDA also showed dirt and mold in the hoses used to transfer water to and from the tanks. Ick. Other water samples collected by the EPA were tainted with Salmonella and insect eggs. Double ick and perish that thought.

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