Have you ever noticed that you crave liquids while on an airplane? That’s because flying can dehydrate you. You might be perfectly content when you board, but an hour later you start craving something to drink. If your go-to drink involves hot water, you might want to switch it up. A flight attendant recently revealed why you should never drink hot water on an airplane.
A flight attendant told Business Insider, “Flight attendants will not drink hot water on the plane. They will not drink plain coffee, and they will not drink plain tea.”
It turns out that the water used for hot drinks on flights comes straight from the tap. According to a 2004 EPA study, 12.6% of the water samples from airplanes contained coliform. Coliform count indicates how much fecal matter is present to determine the sanitary quality. Of the 158 planes they looked at, the EPA also found that two of the planes tested positive for E.coli.
The study noted, “Both total coliform and E.coli are indicators that other disease-causing organisms (pathogens) may be present in the water and could potentially affect public health.”
The EPA changed their standards in 2009 as a result of the study, forcing airlines to use water sources that follow FDA guidelines and disinfect their water at least once a year. But according to Business Insider, one in eight planes fail to reach their standards for water safety.
When the EPA ran more tests in 2012, they found similar results. Around 12% of the samples still tested positive for coliform, but only 0.5% of the samples contained E. Coli. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that there was more bacteria in the trucks delivering the water to the planes, than in the original water source.