I once flew from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. I was in economy for the 15-hour flight and the flight attendants went down the aisles hourly with bottles of water to pour passengers a glass. I took one sip and I knew it wasn’t bottled. It was so horrendous tasting, I spit it back into my glass and later asked for a soda. RELATED: Flight attendant reveals ridiculously gross reason she won’t use hotel coffee machines or kettles

I’ve also seen flight attendants on U.S. carriers doing what I suspect was the same thing the Cathay FAs did, which was filling up empty bottles of bottled water that they gave first class passengers and refilling them with water from the tap.

That’s a big no-no to drink as a flight attendant and influencer with over a million followers on TikTok posted a controversial video that has received over five million views (that’s more than most mainstream news channels) on the subject.

Kat Kamalani (@katkamalani) caught my attention when she said: “Rule number one: Never consume any liquid that is not in a can or a bottle the reason being is because those water tanks are never cleaned and they are disgusting. So talk to a flight attendant. We rarely drink the coffee or tea. They come from the same tank when you’re drinking coffee tea come from hot water and it’s absolutely disgusting.”

She then points a photo of the coffee makers in the galley and says: “so these little coffee guys they are rarely cleaned unless they are broken. These guys (coffee pots) are taken out and cleaned up between but the whole machine is never cleaned. And they’re by the lavatories.”

She then has some solid advice for parents traveling with babies: “So pro tips for all you parents: never ask for hot water and put it in your baby’s bottle. Ask for a bottle water on the side and hot water in a cup. Then make your baby a bottle with the bottled water and put it in the cup and heat it up.”

@katkamalani Just promise me you won’t 🤢 #flightattendantlife #travelhacks #traveler #cleaninghacks #influencers #foodhack ♬ original sound – Kat Kamalani

Kat’s video received over 4,000 comments and some of them were what you would expect like, Stella Tsikis’ who said, “You guys should clean them. Seriously that’s messed up.”

But other popular comments seem to contradict what Kat says or at least, at the airline these people are working at. (FYI: It’s not clear which airline Kat worked for so it might not be a systemwide thing. Here are some comments from (supposedly) airline workers:

“In my airline (🇦🇪) they are cleaned and we all love a good coffee or tea onboard 🙂 don’t believe everything you see on Tik Tok 🥱”

Haley Lyn
“Hi 😌 im an aircraft mechanic, and whatever airline you work for I’m sorry, because WE DO clean those tanks and coffee pots ON TOP OF its (1/2)”

“I clean the planes and can confirm they get cleaned between every flight”

Stig Aviation
“She has no idea what she is talking about. Water tanks are sterilized on a regular basis. I know because I do it. This is such bad info to public.”

Another flight, presumably from a different airline, had the same to say in this Inside Edition interview:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Inside Edition (@insideedition)

I tried looking up official reports on this because I have heard many flight attendants who don’t drink the tap water, coffee, tea or put ice in their cups. The only thing I found is a 2019 Airline Water Study released by DietDetective.com and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, which revealed the quality of drinking water varies by airline, and many airlines have shockingly provided passengers with unhealthy water.

“The 2019 Airline Water Study ranks 11 major and 12 regional airlines mainly by the quality of water they provided onboard its flights. Each airline was given a “Water Health Score” (5 = highest rating, 0 = lowest) based on 10 criteria, including fleet size, ADWR violations, positive E. coli and coliform water sample reports and cooperation in providing answers to water-quality questions. A score of 3.0 or better indicates that the airline has relatively safe, clean water.”

The study shows the airlines with the worst scores were JetBlue and Spirit Airlines. “Except for Piedmont Airlines, regional airlines need to improve their onboard water safety.”

Here are the scores from the major airlines:
Alaska Airlines: 3.3
Allegiant Air: 3.3
Hawaiian Airlines: 3.1
Frontier Airlines: 2.6
Southwest Airlines: 2.4
Delta Air Lines: 1.6
American Airlines: 1.5
United Airlines: 1.2
JetBlue: 1
Spirit Airlines: 1

Regional Airlines
Piedmont Airlines: 4.33
Sun Country Airlines: 2.78
Envoy Air: 2.11
GoJet Airlines: 2
Trans States Airlines: 1.78
Compass Airlines 1.22
PSA Airlines: 1.22
SkyWest Airlines 1.11
Endeavor Air: 0.78
Air Wisconsin Airlines: 0.68
ExpressJet Airlines: 0.56
Republic Airways: 0.44

Again, this study was from 2019 perhaps a lot has changed but I’m not sure if it’s for the better or worse. So if you’re a flight attendant or work for an airline, please comment below if you feel it’s safe to drink the tap water from your airline.

One thing is for sure: I will keep drinking bottled water or water that is from a filtered water station in the airport or at the club lounge.

But if you want to be extra safe, then follow Diet Detective’s and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center’s advice:
-“NEVER drink any water onboard that isn’t in a sealed bottle
-Do not drink coffee or tea onboard,
-Do not wash your hands in the bathroom; bring hand-sanitizer with you instead.”


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4 Comments On "You probably won’t be drinking the water, coffee or tea on airplanes after reading this"
  1. Marlin|

    Seems to me that you have reported on this before. Anyhow I knew it and still get a hot beverage if I want it. Never gotten sick from it.

  2. Dan|

    Seems to me that the “Flight Attendant” has no clue what’s going on.

    All the water you’re going to drink was Catered for THAT flight.

    The Water in the Aircraft Tanks is sampled and sent to a laboratory every week.

    Please report facts, not fiction

  3. Natalie|

    I did not see the # of countries posted at the bottom of your newsletter as previously stated… disappointing.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Hi Natalie,

      It was at the bottom so not sure how you missed it. Here is the copy:

      How many countries are there in the world?
      According to BBC Science Focus (published January 5, 2024), “The total number of countries in the world differs from source to source – just as the number of continents. Many point to the UN’s list of officially recognized nations as a definitive answer to the question, but this isn’t without its controversies.

      The UN, for example, doesn’t recognize the territories of Vatican City (the smallest country in the world) or Palestine as fully-fledged countries, instead listing them as observer states (nations that can speak at the United Nations General Assembly meetings, but cannot vote on resolutions).

      In the UN’s list, too, are more controversial omissions. Taiwan isn’t recognized by the organization, nor is Kosovo or Hong Kong. Outside the UN, such territories are recognized by some, but not by others. It’s complex and very political.

      Depending on who you ask, the total number of countries on Earth ranges anywhere between 193 to 237. This is ultimately because there are a lot of disputed zones and nations that hold either full or partial sovereignty around the world.

      There are 195 recognized countries in the world, according to the United Nations. 193 of these are member states of the UN, while two countries are non-member observer states: Vatican City and the State of Palestine.

      Other organizations list a different number of countries on Earth, with US intelligence agency the CIA listing 237 countries in total.”

      The links can’t be embedded here but they are on the newsletter

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