Why You Shouldn't Order Coffee or Tea on a Plane

Chances are your plane's drinking water is contaminated
Why You Shouldn't Order Coffee or Tea on a Plane
Photo: Jacob Sjoman Svensson/Folio Images via Getty Images

As much as we all say we love traveling, we can also be honest with ourselves when we say the process of sitting on a plane for six-plus hours is never enjoyable. Thankfully, for those 5 a.m. flights when the air-conditioning always seems to be on the coldest setting, the ever-reliable airline cup of coffee is always present.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why your airline attendants, who spend their days hopping through time zones, seem to never be enjoying a cup themselves?

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It turns out there's a pretty good chance the water used to brew your in-flight coffee (or tea) is riddled with bacteria. According to NBC, data obtained by the EPA in 2012 showed that one in 10 planes tested positive for having potentially harmful microbes in its water supply. And while in most cases the bacteria found isn't enough to make a person extremely ill, it could be an indicator that E. coli has made its way into the water source. 

And it's not that there's an issue with an airline's water supply—most often, the various hoses used to fill a plane's water tanks (wherever the plane happens to be) can be filthy, transferring bacteria in the process. Unfortunately, this means you should reconsider ordering your usual round of icy, in-flight cocktails and other ice-chilled beverages as well, and stick to plain old bottled water.

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