Why you should skip your coffee request on your next flight...

Written by Alex Reid
Posted December 26, 2019

Dear Reader,

You may know by now that airline jets are not sanitary.

Hundreds of people are in and out of a single plane on any given day — and the crew has little time to clean up, let alone sanitize the seats, tables, and armrests.

Not to mention the bathrooms...

But the thing you should avoid the absolute most is the coffee.

NEVER drink coffee on an airplane… ever. 

The water used to brew the coffee comes straight from the faucet on the plane... the same water you use in the airplane bathroom. 

Why is this a problem?

Well, airlines have to fill a large tank with water inside the plane. And how often do you think they sanitize that tank? Not very often, if ever!

So it accumulates bacteria and other microbes over time. 

“Planes come in, [and the tanks are] not being emptied and cleaned, because there is no time for that. The water tank is being filled on top [after] each usage. Whatever would be on the bottom stays there and sits there,” Charles Platkin, the executive director of the Food Policy Center, explained to the New York Post.

In fact, one study found E. coli in many airline water samples. 

But shouldn’t the hot water used to make the coffee kill off the microbes? Yes, but not entirely...

Though the water is brought to a hot temperature, it’s not boiled. So many bacteria can still live in the water.

Plus, there are feces... 

That’s right... There is FECES IN THE WATER. 

According to a study of on-flight water, the water in many planes’ “clean” holding tanks contain fecal particles.

In this study, they ranked many of the top airlines’ water quality using a scale from 0 to 5 — zero being the worst quality and five excellent quality. 

A score of at least 3 is considered “relatively safe.” 

Here’s how the airlines scored: 

National Airlines

  • Alaska Airlines: 3.3
  • Allegiant Air: 3.3
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 3.1
  • Frontier Airlines: 2.6
  • Southwest Airlines: 2.4
  • Delta Air Lines: 1.6
  • American Airlines: 1.5
  • United Airlines: 1.2
  • JetBlue: 1
  • Spirit Airlines: 1

Regional Airlines

  • Piedmont Airlines: 4.33
  • Sun Country Airlines: 2.78
  • Envoy Air: 2.11
  • GoJet Airlines: 2
  • Trans States Airlines: 1.78
  • Compass Airlines 1.22
  • PSA Airlines: 1.22
  • SkyWest Airlines 1.11
  • Endeavor Air: 0.78
  • Air Wisconsin Airlines: 0.68
  • ExpressJet Airlines: 0.56
  • Republic Airways: 0.44

The study didn’t specify whether or not the problem is only with the holding tanks. Could the water source also be a problem? 

The water going into the tank might not be the best quality to begin with. So even with the airlines that don’t have bacteria and feces in the water, there could be other contaminants. 

Either way, it’s a good idea to steer clear of coffee on the drink cart. And the same goes for tea. 

As for other beverages, you’re in the clear. All sodas, waters, and alcoholic beverages are in sealed containers until they are served.

To your health,

Alex Reid
President, Longevity Insider HQ