Taking the early morning flight to make a vital connection at the next stop on your journey? Or congratulating yourself on a job well done on the flight home? Either way, there are some important facts you need to know before ordering that desperately needed morning Coffee or that Happy Hour drink…
Airline Coffee’s hidden dangers
There’s no actual chemistry to this one. Just a caution about where the ingredients come from – and it’s not the Coffee, itself.
Remember my posts about how filthy restaurant ice makers can become because nobody thinks to or wants to clean them regularly? The same goes for Airline Coffee: It’s made with airline tap Water, and those water systems may not be the cleanest.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it tested Water from 158 randomly selected passenger airliners and found that, while the water on 87.4 percent of them met EPA drinking water standards, the water on a significant 12.6 percent of domestic and international flights did not. Samples from the galley and restroom taps on 20 airliners of the 158 were found to contain e. coli or coliform bacteria, both of which can make you pretty sick.
“Yes,” you say. “But they boil the Water when making Coffee and Tea. The bacteria are killed.”
Not necessarily. In fact, systems designed to brew Coffee and heat Water for Tea are usually calibrated to around 180 – 200 F, below the 212 F boiling point of Water at sea level.
There’s also the spectre of Water on home-bound international flights which may come from Water systems that aren’t up to North American standards.
Just a head’s up, here…
Alcohol can hit you harder at cruising altitude
This post, thanks to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is almost entirely about chemistry – the chemistry of how your body processes Alcohol. The post explains:
During a flight, the barometric pressure in the cabin of a plane is lower than it is in most places on earth. You can compare it with an altitude in the mountains of between 1,800 and 2,200 metres. This decreased pressure environment diminishes the body’s ability to absorb oxygen and it can produce light-headedness. We call this hypoxia. Generally speaking, this is not an issue but the feeling could be similar to the experience you have after drinking alcohol.
Therefore, if you drink alcoholic beverages during a flight you may notice it sooner, and so might the crew and other passengers if you drink too much. In other words, because of the lower level of oxygen in your blood, you may seem more drunk in the air than you would on the ground after consuming the same amount of alcohol. But, in fact, your BAC will show the same percentage as would be the case if you drank the same amount of alcohol on the ground under similar circumstances. A complicating factor is that the air in an aircraft is very dry and, coupled with the diuretic effect of drinking alcohol; you may become dehydrated much faster than you would on the ground.
Make sure you remain well hydrated, drinking bottled Water alongside any Alcoholic beverage and and avoid Salty snacks which will make you want to drink more, and moderate your Alcohol intake while flying, spacing multiple drinks by at least an hour to avoid dangerous alcohol buildup in your system.
Remember that most airlines have very strict regulations about passengers who become unruly or aggressive while in flight and pilots are empowered to make emergency landings and turn over such passengers to police. In fact, making a fuss on an airplane is an offense under international law!
Mow you know.
~ Maggie J.