Flight Attendant Reveals the Gross Reason You Should Never Drink Water on Planes in Viral TikTok

glass of water in a glass on an airplane tray table

TikTok is a space where you can watch viral dance crazes and unusual trends, but it's also a place to learn some random facts — even ones you might not want to know.

The latest TikTok video making its rounds on the internet comes from flight attendant Kat Kamalani, who dishes on what you absolutely should not eat or drink while on a plane. Brace yourself — her advice might surprise (and perhaps even disgust) you a bit.

"Rule number one: Never consume any liquid that is not in a can or a bottle," she says in the video, explaining that "those water tanks are never cleaned and they are disgusting."

Kamalani goes on to say that she and her fellow flight attendants hardly ever drink coffee or hot tea while on a flight, as they both use the same water tanks that "are rarely cleaned unless they are broken."

To make matters worse, those water tanks are located right next to the lavatories.

Kamalani recommends asking for bottled water or canned soft drinks instead — and she's not the first flight attendant to make this suggestion.

A few years ago, flight attendants urged passengers to steer clear of coffee and tea, citing a 2004 EPA sample of 158 planes with some very grim results. Of the planes sampled, 13% contained coliform and two even had dangerous levels of E. coli in the water.

More recent studies have not been very promising, either.

A 2019 study by the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center at the City University of New York and DietDetective.com analyzed the quality of drinking water on 11 major and 12 regional airlines.

"The quality of drinking water varies by airline, and many airlines have possibly provided passengers with unhealthy water," the study states.

A "water health score" ranging from five (best) to zero (worst) was given to each airline. Several factors were taken into consideration, including fleet size and positive E. coli and coliform water sample reports. Any score above three indicated relatively clean drinking water, according to the study.

Of 10 major airlines analyzed, seven received a score of under three, leaving the study with the same conclusion as Kamalani: Avoid airplane tap water at all costs. The study even takes things a step further, suggesting that passengers shouldn't wash their hands on a flight, as the water in the lavatories comes from the same tank. Instead, the study recommends using hand sanitizer.

Whether or not you want to take things that far is up to you, but there seems to be enough consensus on avoiding anything that doesn't come in a bottle or can while flying.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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