Have you got the bottle to demand free water on a flight?

Thirsty passengers who travel on budget airlines could be flying under a false economy.

Not only do they have to pay for drinking water on board, but the typical cost of a small bottle is £3.


While many airlines provide free, fresh drinking water as part of the service, some economy airlines are charging for this basic essential.

This could add about £50 on to the ticket price for long haul travellers or an average family who want to stay healthy and hydrated during their flight.

Questions over pricing and access to free water have already been raised in the House of Lords.  Airlines and airports are not obliged to provide passengers with free water.  Andrew Adonis added that some operators sell bottled water in order to keep prices low.

Dehydration acceleration at 35,000 feet

People need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Otherwise, they may become dehydrated; which can lead to a host of side effects, ranging from tiredness, muscle fatigue and dizziness, to more severe conditions, including heart problems.

Air travel makes passengers thirsty. Poor cabin humidity and high altitudes speed up dehydration, as Mike Winter of MIW explains.:

“Flying conditions can take their toll on the body and passengers can become thirsty, uncomfortable and unwell, if they don’t drink enough water.”

The standard of on board drinking water is also under discussion.  In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Aircraft Drinking Water Rule  ‘To ensure that safe and reliable drinking water is provided to airline passengers and crew. The ADWR provides additional protection to the public from disease-causing organisms (e.g. pathogens) sometimes found in the onboard drinking water by establishing barriers of protection targeted to the air carrier industry.’

Mike Winter of MIW says: “Access to fresh drinking water on airplanes would benefit all passengers. We would welcome any moves by all airlines to provide complimentary drinking water.”

What do you think?

Do customers have a right to expect free drinking water as part of the service?

Perhaps it’s a question of ethics; do airlines have a duty of care to provide customers with water?

Maybe you’re part of the cabin crew – how do you stay hydrated on board?