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Study Finds Traces of E. Coli in Airline Drinking Water

News Airports + Flying
by Eben Diskin Sep 24, 2019

There are a lot of myths surrounding what you should or shouldn’t eat and drink on airplanes, but now there’s an official study to back some of it up. The 2019 Airline Water Study, released by Diet Detective and Hunter College’s NYC Food Policy Center, shows that the quality of airplane drinking water isn’t always stellar.

The study ranks 11 major and 12 regional airlines by the quality of the drinking water they provide passengers, and found that many airlines are in violation of the Aircraft Drinking Water Rule (ADWR), which sets the standard for safe drinking water.

According to the study, Alaska and Allegiant airlines provide the safest water, with Hawaiian Airlines coming in second. You probably want to avoid the water on JetBlue and Spirit, however, which were found to have the worst water quality.

The ADWR requires airlines to test water samples for coliform bacteria and E. coli, disinfect and flush water tanks four times per year, and conduct regular water tests. Judging by the study’s results, it seems as though many airlines are shirking their responsibilities, and E. coli and other contaminants are ending up in the water supply.

The study’s authors advise passengers to only drink water from a sealed bottle, don’t drink any coffee or tea, and instead of washing your hands in the bathroom, bring your own hand sanitizer.

Read the full study to see which airlines’ water you should probably pass on.

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