Inspired by this question over at MiYodeya, does anyone know of specific practices or regulations regarding the use and cleaning of water urns on commercial planes?

Specific questions would be

  • are water urns on planes only used for water?
  • are they washed? (or do we saw that they don't need to because they only contain water)?
  • are they washed in dedicated washing machines for water urns or with other food containers/dishes?

These might seem weird questions but some Jewish travelers who observe Jewish dietary laws (i.e., eat kosher) will decide whether they can drink coffee on planes based on these answers.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty certain that there would be no regulations (as in, law) regarding use of dedicated washing machines for water-only containers. That would probably be up to each airline, and I wouldn't be surprised if there exist airlines that do, but I also wouldn't be entirely surprised if there exist airlines that don't care. $\endgroup$
    – user
    May 28, 2018 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ see one answer here $\endgroup$
    – mbloch
    Jul 30, 2018 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


From observing catering operations as a passenger on many flights:

  1. Hot water is served from the same pots as coffee, so that only one type of hot liquid container is needed per flight. The pots are clearly intended for hot water or coffee. This doesn't mean that the flight attendants haven't used it for something else. For example, the galley sink might get clogged and the flight attendant uses the pots as a scoop to move the liquid to the toilet. I've seen this at least once.

  2. Yes, everything with food contact has to be washed and disinfected, especially on international flights for phytosanitary reasons. They even will wash the trolleys. They cannot disinfect the pots on the aircraft, so at the end of the flight, they are placed back in the metal catering containers, and will be washed in the catering facility with all other supplies ("rotables").

  3. There's no regulation or non-religious reason why you'd want to separate the coffee pots from the rest of the equipment, so I doubt any airline does this. Here's a page showing pitchers being washed with serving trays and drawers.

In the majority of galleys, the hot water comes from the coffee maker or dedicated water boiler, which operates like a commercial coffee maker: there's a constantly heated internal hot water tank that is automatically refilled from the aircraft water tanks. My understanding is that it may be best to have hot water dispensed directly from the maker, since that is dedicated for water use.


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