WINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) -- Thousands of people will take to the skies for Thanksgiving but before you board the plane, there’s some startling information that shows the water that's on your flight may be contaminated.
When you think of places where germs can breed on an airplane, the cramped space and the recycled air may be your first guesses. However, a new concern has emerged for passengers – the water.
While it may not be the first thing passengers think of when they board, Dr. Charles Platkin, from the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center says it should be.
“Consumers and travelers alike need to realize that the ‘potable water’ on the airlines is not really worthy of their drinking,” Platkin said.
His research spans 23 airlines and found e-coli and coliform, the same things found in feces, were present in many major airlines water.
The contaminates weren’t found in the bottled water served, but the water in the restrooms, which is used to wash hands, and the water that can be used in coffee and teas.
“That stomach ache that they might be getting could be coming from the coffee and tea that they’re drinking, or they could be washing their hands in water that’s tainted,” Platkin said.
The problem with on board water got so bad that in 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency did take action, creating the Aircraft Drinking Water Rule.
However, Platkin says that may not be the fix because of major loopholes in accountability.
“The airline is doing their own sample testing and using their own labs and then reporting whatever they wish to the EPA and then violations are then issued,” Platkin said.
Over the course of seven years, Platkin pulled the data from the EPA that the airlines self-reported, and ranked airlines on a score of 1-5, one being the lowest.
Here are the rankings of all domestic airlines that fly out of Bradley International Airport:
- Frontier - 2.6
- Southwest - 2.4.
- Delta - 1.6
- American - 1.5
- United - 1.2
- JetBlue and Spirit - 1
“Spirit and JetBlue were really surprising, specifically JetBlue was surprising. Those were the two worst,” Platkin said.
The Ch. 3 I-Team reached out to both airlines.
A JetBlue spokesperson wrote that the study doesn’t fairly reflect the airline’s commitment to water quality, saying “The study looks back to 2012, but over the past 3 years, JetBlue has worked to achieve water quality that has produced few violations under the latest EPA aircraft drinking water rule regulations.”
A representative for Spirit follows up highlighting its safety program that ensures “the quality of water in our planes is safe.”
“Almost all the CEOs of every major airline noticed the study and were concerned about it. Something that was not, you know, on their radar and now it is,” Platkin said.
Platkin advises travelers simply don’t order coffee or tea, and use sanitizer instead.
When it comes to the ice used in drinks, Platkin said it is brought in from another source.
Alaska and Allegiant Air rated the best in the study, but they don’t fly out of Bradley.
For a look at the whole study, click here.