Why You Shouldn’T Drink Hot Water On A Plane

If you’re a frequent flyer, you may have wondered if it’s safe or advisable to drink hot water during a flight. Here’s a quick answer: drinking hot water on an airplane is not recommended due to the risk of scalding and potential water contamination.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain all the reasons why flight attendants recommend against drinking hot water at 35,000 feet. We’ll cover the dangers of getting burned by hot liquids in flight, the questionable quality and cleanliness of plane water, and healthier beverage alternatives you can enjoy instead.

The Dangers of Hot Liquids on Airplanes

Risk of Spilling and Burns

While it may be tempting to enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee during a flight, it’s important to consider the potential dangers associated with hot liquids on airplanes. One of the main risks is the possibility of spilling the hot liquid, which can lead to serious burns.

Due to the confined space and turbulence that can occur during the flight, there is a higher chance of accidentally knocking over a cup or having it spill on you or a neighboring passenger. This can result in painful burns and potentially ruin your travel experience.

According to a study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there have been numerous incidents of hot liquid spills on airplanes, resulting in injuries to passengers and crew members.

In fact, between 2003 and 2012, the NTSB reported 38 incidents of hot liquid spills, with 13 of them resulting in second or third-degree burns.

Difficulty Handling Hot Cups in Flight

Another reason to avoid drinking hot water on a plane is the difficulty in handling hot cups during the flight. While flight attendants do their best to provide steady trays and secure cup holders, the nature of flying can make it challenging to keep hot liquids stable.

Turbulence, sudden movements, and unexpected jolts can cause the cup to tip or spill, putting you at risk of burns.

Furthermore, the limited space on airplanes can make it challenging to find a comfortable and safe position to hold a hot cup. With cramped seating and limited armrest space, it’s easy to accidentally bump the cup or have it slip from your hand.

This not only poses a risk to you but also to those around you.

It’s important to prioritize safety and minimize potential risks while traveling. Opting for cooler beverages or waiting until you’ve landed to enjoy a hot drink can help prevent accidents and ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

Remember, it’s always better to be cautious and avoid unnecessary hazards during your flight.

Questionable Quality of Airline Water

When it comes to staying hydrated during a flight, many people opt for a cup of hot water instead of the usual cold beverage. But did you know that the quality of the water on an airplane is often questionable? There are several reasons why you should think twice before drinking hot water on a plane.

Airplane Water Tanks Can Harbor Bacteria

One major concern with the water on airplanes is the potential presence of bacteria. Airplane water tanks are known to harbor various types of bacteria, including E. coli and coliform. These bacteria can contaminate the water supply and pose a risk to your health if ingested.

In fact, studies have shown that the water on some planes contains levels of bacteria that exceed the limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is particularly problematic when it comes to hot water, as the high temperatures can actually promote the growth of bacteria. The warm environment inside the water tanks provides an ideal breeding ground for these microorganisms, increasing the risk of contamination.

Water Lines and Tanks Are Rarely Disinfected

Another issue with airplane water is the lack of regular disinfection. Due to time constraints and the complexity of the system, airlines often struggle to properly clean and disinfect the water lines and tanks.

This means that bacteria and other contaminants can accumulate over time, making the water unsafe for consumption.

In fact, a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency found that 12% of the tested airplanes had water containing coliform bacteria, indicating possible fecal contamination. This alarming finding highlights the need for improved water safety measures on airplanes.

It is important to note that not all airlines have the same standards when it comes to water quality. Some airlines have invested in advanced filtration systems and regular testing to ensure the safety of their water supply.

However, it is still wise to exercise caution and avoid drinking hot water on a plane unless you are certain about its source and quality.

Safer Hydration Options on Planes

While it’s important to stay hydrated during flights, there are certain precautions to consider when it comes to the safety of the water you consume onboard. Drinking hot water on a plane may not be the best idea due to a variety of reasons.

Fortunately, there are alternative options that can help you stay hydrated without compromising your health.

Drink Bottled Water

One of the safest options for hydration on a plane is to drink bottled water. This eliminates any concerns about the quality of the water onboard. Airlines often provide bottled water to passengers, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own as a precaution.

Make sure to check the seal of the bottle before consuming, and if you’re unsure, ask a flight attendant for a new bottle.

Have Tea or Coffee

If you’re in the mood for a hot beverage, opting for tea or coffee can be a safer choice than drinking plain hot water. The water used to make these beverages is typically heated to a temperature that kills bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.

Just make sure to avoid adding tap water to your tea or coffee, as it may not be safe to consume.

Order Juice or Soda

If you prefer a cold drink, ordering juice or soda can be a refreshing and safe option on a plane. These beverages are typically served chilled and come from sealed containers, reducing the risk of contamination.

However, it’s important to note that sugary drinks may not be the healthiest choice, so it’s best to consume them in moderation.


To stay hydrated on your next flight, stick to bottled beverages you can drink at a safe temperature. Avoiding hot water onboard also reduces your risk of painful burns at 35,000 feet. While airlines are improving water standards, contamination concerns mean hot water is better enjoyed on the ground.

With the right in-flight choices, you can safely quench your thirst on plane rides of any duration.

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