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Flight attendants are in on a special (and rather disgusting) secret that all of those who use air travel should be aware of – it is a very bad idea to ever drink hot water while on a flight.
Water on planes is regularly contaminated with disease-causing bacteria
“Flight attendants will not drink hot water on the plane, “said an anonymous flight attendant to Business Insider, “They will not drink plain coffee, and they will not drink plain tea.” As it turns out, there is a very good reason for this. The water that is used to make hot drinks during a flight comes directly from the taps fitted on planes rather than bottled water. Investigations and tests on the water that comes from these taps regularly contain coliform markers which indicate the presence of fecal matter which could cause diseases such as E. Coli.
A study by the EPA of 158 planes found that two of planes’ water supplies tested positive for E. Coli which can cause intense stomach cramps and diarrhea. It was also found that one in eight of the planes in the study failed to meet the standards for water safety. In 2015, it was discovered that this water contamination on planes was being caused by the dirty trucks that are used to transport the water to the planes.
As a result of the studies, the EPA has issued new guidelines to plane operators which force airlines to disinfect their water and test it for contamination at least once a year. However, despite the fact that these guidelines were introduced in 2009, later testing found that the water quality on planes had no improved and coliform and E. Coli was still often present in disturbing quantities on the plane.
While some people may choose to take their chances because boiling water can kill off pathogens, this is probably not a wise move. According to Brenda Wiles, an environmental scientist, boiling water only kills off some pathogens and is unlikely to destroy the most dangerous of them. Therefore, until the situation is finally brought under control, it may be better to avoid hot drinks on flights.