Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Discontinued Programs/Partners > United Mileage Plus (Pre-Merger)
Reload this Page >

FAs ... does airplane ice come from the on-board water tanks?

FAs ... does airplane ice come from the on-board water tanks?

 
Old Apr 25, 02, 7:15 am
  #1  
Senior Moderator, Moderator: Coronavirus, United MileagePlus, Environmentally Friendly Travel, FlyerTalk Cares
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1.7 MM/Plat; AS MVP 75K; AA gold; Fairmont & Starwood platinum; Hyatt diamond; Kimpton IC Elite
Posts: 17,627
FAs ... does airplane ice come from the on-board water tanks?

My son T-wiz is doing an on-going science project where he's testing the tank water on airplanes for colliform colonies. (I think he's going to start a thread on his results sometime soon.) He just tested six different flights (not all UA) and four of six came back positive for colliform.

I believe most water actually served on airplanes comes from bottles, but on UA's 747s, for instance there are mini cups in the lavs, which would imply the water's safe to drink.

There is also the water dispenser outside the galley. Do you know if this water comes from the airplane's tank? Also the ice served on board, does any of that come from the airplane's tank?

Thanks
l etoile is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 7:19 am
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: source of weird and eccentric ideas
Posts: 37,616
I don't know exacttly, but there is "plane" water and their is "bottled" water. The plane I think has a tank for potable water (supposedly potable anyway.) The ice is boarded as ice, so it does not come from the airplane tank. I am sure it is made from tap water somewhere, perhaps filtered although I wouldn't count on it.
richard is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 7:36 am
  #3  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 61,951
I always assumed the mini-cups are for use when brushing your teeth, not for drinking.
Plato90s is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 7:42 am
  #4  
Senior Moderator, Moderator: Coronavirus, United MileagePlus, Environmentally Friendly Travel, FlyerTalk Cares
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1.7 MM/Plat; AS MVP 75K; AA gold; Fairmont & Starwood platinum; Hyatt diamond; Kimpton IC Elite
Posts: 17,627
More questions ... the coffee and tea ... are those made from bottled water or tank water?

Plato: I'm not sure I want to brush my teeth in colliform though either.

l etoile is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 7:44 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Reality, Freedom • Fly Tarom •
Programs: AF FB Platinum For Life (F+ Rouge Vintage®) / Hertz President's Circle / SNCF Grand Voyageur Le Club
Posts: 10,045
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">(I think he's going to start a thread on his results sometime soon.)</font>
Can't wait!
blairvanhorn is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 7:56 am
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 12,374
Just make sure your Son spells coliform correctly in his science report.

I'd guess that the Coffee and Tea is made from the potable water that is the same as that which is available in the Lav. Hopefully most of the bad stuff is wiped out by the high temperature during brewing.



[This message has been edited by transpac (edited 04-25-2002).]
transpac is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 8:03 am
  #7  
Senior Moderator, Moderator: Coronavirus, United MileagePlus, Environmentally Friendly Travel, FlyerTalk Cares
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1.7 MM/Plat; AS MVP 75K; AA gold; Fairmont & Starwood platinum; Hyatt diamond; Kimpton IC Elite
Posts: 17,627
transpac: Fortunately T-wiz is smarter and spells much better than his mum.
l etoile is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 8:08 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: YYZ
Posts: 6,113
My employer (AC) has clear plastic bags of ice cubes loaded onto each flight along with the food and beverages by the catering staff, which are then kept refrigerated onboard. On some of aircraft, we post signs in the cabin warning passengers not to drink the tanked water! There are drinking water stations on our long-haul Airbuses, though, so they must have some kind of purification mechanism. I have filled a lot of airplane water tanks as a former ramp worker, and I can attest the equipment involved is not always spic-and-span. I'd be interested to hear if other airlines have different procedures.
YYZC2 is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 9:07 am
  #9  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Posts: 10,693
I have been on a few international flights and seen the FA's fill the water bottles from the tanks then go around filling peoples water glasses.
Baze is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 10:14 am
  #10  
Liz
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Not at home
Programs: MP
Posts: 2,312
The ice is boarded in clear plastic bags with "United Airlines" written on them. Where the ice is obtained...I have no clue. The galley faucet is from the potable water source.
Liz is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 11:10 am
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: West Seattle, WA
Posts: 10,469
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Liz:
[B]The ice is boarded in clear plastic bags with "United Airlines" written on them. Where the ice is obtained...I have no clue. [B]</font>
This is what I was going to say. Haven't you ever see the FAs pounding away with the mini sledgehammer as you board!

chexfan is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 11:21 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: San Francisco CA, UA 1K
Posts: 225
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by chexfan:
This is what I was going to say. Haven't you ever see the FAs pounding away with the mini sledgehammer as you board!
</font>
I was thinking the same thing and I'm sorry I can't be the first one to mention the infamous "pound the icebag" routine!
gglockner is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 11:23 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: BKK when I'm not in Princeton
Programs: UA MP:1P for life, TG:Gold, CO:Gold
Posts: 2,017
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by letiole:
He just tested six different flights (not all UA) and four of six came back positive for colliform.

I believe most water actually served on airplanes comes from bottles, but on UA's 747s, for instance there are mini cups in the lavs, which would imply the water's safe to drink.
</font>
What kind of coliform is he detecting? Fecal? I don't know anything about the total coliform group, except that it is usually rather innocuous, but often an indicator of a likely presence of other more potent pathogens.

If your son wants to engage in some interesting testing, have him check out the ice-makers in upscale hotels. A very good friend of mine is a senior liability underwriter in Bangkok. She checks out a number of major properties, including top 5* hotels, and has only a few key points of focus. One of them is hotel's ice-maker. Not the filters, but the chilling tubes themselves. Based on the thickness of the slime coats on the tubes, she can guesstimate quite accurately how often they are (if they are) cleaned, and the resultant number of health related claims she might expect. The results are surprising (she wasn't surprised, but I was).

So, next time you are in one of the worlds' leading hotels, check out the ice cubes with the round holes in the center.
UAL Traveler is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 11:23 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Programs: Alaska Tanzanite 100K
Posts: 3,715
as long as I'm on a domestic bird, I wouldn't worry too much about the potable water... but on a 747/757/767/777 I may begin to ponder even using the water in the lav for brushing my teeth :P

the issue w/ intl airraft is the tanks are never cleaned out, just refilled. so if you are in some 3rd world country where it's not quite recommended to drinkt he water, you still have a chance of getting some infected H20.

The coffee comes from the aircraft's potable water supply, but it is also heated to near boiling, so that would pretty much kill anything in the water that would harm our bodies...

-n
UAPremierExec is offline  
Old Apr 25, 02, 12:32 pm
  #15  
Senior Moderator, Moderator: Coronavirus, United MileagePlus, Environmentally Friendly Travel, FlyerTalk Cares
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1.7 MM/Plat; AS MVP 75K; AA gold; Fairmont & Starwood platinum; Hyatt diamond; Kimpton IC Elite
Posts: 17,627
Yeah, I thought about the ice obviously being already on board after I wrote the topic. On long hauls though I thought perhaps they made more ice. The FAs let my son store is ice bags for chilling his samples in their freezer so I thought maybe there is ice-making capabilities. I'm more curious about the water that comes out of the little spigots near the galley though as those are clearly meant to be used for drinking water. I'm wondering if there's a separate tank for those and a separate one for the lav sinks.

I have been on some Atlantic Coast CRJs that have those signs that say not to drink the water. The UA planes with little cups in the lav, however, would suggest it's OK.

Yes, he's been testing for fecal coliform. He's found it on all our flights that originated in New Zealand and Australia (not too surprising since he found it in our hotels there too). Problem, as I see it with domestic flights, is that that plane could have just tanked up with water in Mexico and then flew to LAX, where you board, for a flight to SFO, for example.

Thanks for all the replies.

l etoile is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread