14 Cathay Planes Found With Contaminated Drinking Water – Poll: Do You Drink the Water On Board?

cathay pacific contaminated water
Cathay Pacific 777. Photo by Mark Harkin

Contaminated Drinking Water on 14 Cathay Planes

I came across an interesting story today about Cathay Pacific failing a random check of their drinking water. The South China Morning Post reported that 14 of the airline’s planes were found to have drinking water that was infected with bacteria above safe levels.

As a precaution, Cathay has started serving bottled water to guests on those planes and 9 out of the 14 planes have now been sterilized. The other 5 will apparently be taken care of as soon as they return to their home base. While the exact type of plane affected has not been released, one pilot anonymously told the South China Morning Post that it was the Boeing 777.

So how does the bacteria get into the water supply? The article states that bacteria can be introduced to the water in a variety of ways. While the sanitation system is not one of them, apparently the bacteria can be brought in by the trucks that load the water on board. Contaminated pipes can also be to blame.

Analysis & Poll

In this case, the contamination doesn’t seem like a big deal. The bacteria was detected during a routine test and as far as we know there aren’t any report of people getting sick from contaminated water on these planes. With that said, I wonder if this is more of a widespread problem.

Since a lot of us fly long haul and fly up front where toothbrushes are often provided, I thought I would ask about drinking the water on board. I generally only drink bottled water, but do brush my teeth on a long haul flight.

Of course, coffee, tea and other beverages are made with that water as well. (Though they are generally boiled.) While I don’t generally drink the water, last year when flying on KLM from Amsterdam to Hong Kong I did drink a ton of water from one of the spigots in the cabin, since my throat was dry. Perhaps that is why I got even sicker? Or not.

Feel free to answer the poll question and elaborate on your experiences and thoughts in the comments!

[poll id=”5″]

HT: Flyertalk

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  1. Best tip I ever got was to take an EMPTY bottle through security and fill it up air side from a water fountain. What is interesting is at SIN they do security at the gate and they ALSO have a water fountain post security at each gate. It is only a problem at HKG on flights to the U.S. where they do a security search on the jet bridge and confiscate water right before you board the plane.


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