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Air rant: why don't airlines give us enough drinking water?

Tip: bring a litre of water with you for every 2-3 hours of your flight

Despite the growth of air travel and how much we know about the problems of dehydration and its effect on, say, blood clots, the supply of water on long haul flights especially is still pathetically inadequate. Let’s take a 10-hour transcontinental flight. In economy and premium economy, irrespective of the airline, you may at best be given a small bottle of water with food and the occasional tray of small plastic glasses brought round by staff once the cabin lights have been dimmed… small plastic glass that contains enough liquid to rehydrate a standard sized adult’s foot.

Try asking for a bottle and they are usually, at best, very grudging. The attitude is better in Business and First as you may expect but, in my experience, asking for what most people would consider a healthy amount of water (at least half a pint) is still regarded as something of an oddity and you have to make a point of asking whereas you don’t for champagne or brandy!

What’s the issue with airlines and water? Is it space? Is it difficult to stock enough bottles onboard to satisfy a surge in demand for water?

I always make sure I have four litres of water on a 10+hour flight and I still disembark with a dry throat and slight headache from dehydration.

One of my pet hates is when the security checks (x-ray machines, metal detectors etc) are installed at the departure gate. So, you go to the departures area, buy your water only to find that to board your flight you need to ditch your water because security and the boarding gate are one and the same. This happens frequently at Singapore’s Changi airport. I also find Singapore Airlines one of the stingiest when it comes to handing out water. Maybe this is a symptom of being a nation to whom water is one of its most precious and scare resources. For such a well-regarded airline and airport, it’s poor all round.

So, for those not-so-frequent flyers, my tip is to stock up on your own water because airlines are still behind the times on hydration.