While this might seem obvious, you should probably heed the sign in the airplane lavatory that says the sink water is not for drinking. If that sign doesn’t convince you, maybe this study will.
A 2019 airline water analysis by the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College just shows how bad water onboard planes truly are. Airlines are required to comply with the Aircraft Drinking Water Rule (ADWR), which was started back in 2011 and requires airlines to provide passengers and flight crew with safe drinking water. However, many airlines are likely violating ADWR and the agency responsible for overseeing it (the Environmental Protection Agency) isn’t really doing anything about it.
Even worse, that same water might be the one used for your coffee and tea — so you may have consumed it unknowingly.
The airline water study looked for bacteria and E.coli in water and what they found was well, pretty disgusting.
Here is the list of airlines with the dirtiest water onboard, ranked from cleanest water to dirtiest water.
- Alaska Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Piedmont Airlines
- Envoy Air
- GoJet Airlines
- Trans States Airlines
- Compass Airlines
- PSA Airlines
- SkyWest Airlines
- Endeavor Air
- Air Wisconsin Airlines
- ExpressJet Airlines
- Republic Airways
Here is a sample comment left for American Airlines:
American Airlines had a very high number of galley water samples testing positive for E.Coli. Additionally, American had a relatively high number of violations for failure to conduct routine monitoring and failure to perform corrective actions and repeat or follow up samples. American also owns regional carriers, PSA Airlines and Envoy Air, which have very poor onboard water records. However, its other subsidiary, Piedmont Airlines, received the highest water score.
Yikes. Much is the same for other airlines as well.
The study authors recommend not drinking coffee onboard as well as not washing your hands in the sink. That last bit is perhaps is one step too far.
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