The One Drink Flight Attendants Wish You Would Stop Ordering

Few things bring relief to travelers the way the plane beverage cart does. We've all been there: Maybe you ran to make your boarding time, and now you're parched. Or perhaps you're on a long, monotonous flight and eagerly awaiting your complimentary drink and meal. You know your wait is finally over once the cabin crew rolls out the cart, stocked with sodas, miniature wine bottles, and juices.

However, not everyone rejoices when the cabin refreshments come out. When it comes to one drink in particular, some flight attendants find it to be more work than it's worth. In fact, this one drink alone can hold up the inflight beverage service, meaning you and all the other thirsty passengers on board might have to wait even longer than expected.

If you assumed the mystery drink was a complicated cocktail or fancy coffee beverage, you'd be wrong. According to some flight attendants, Diet Coke is the one drink they'd rather you not order, and there's a scientific reason to explain why.

Why flight attendants hate serving Diet Coke

One of the first flight attendants to name Diet Coke as a nuisance was an anonymous airline employee who goes by "Jet" on the blog These Gold Wings. The blogger explained that cabin pressure is different from typical on-land air pressure, which can cause carbonated drinks to foam up more than usual. Diet Coke, according to Jet, is the worst of all, requiring more time to pour and settle compared to other sodas and fizzy beverages. "Pouring diet coke is one of the biggest slow downs in the bar service and on the shorter flights those precious seconds count!" the anonymous flight attendant added.

Another airline steward named Ariel Cisneros shared a similar sentiment on TikTok. In a viral clip, Cisneros demonstrates how much longer it takes to pour a can of Diet Coke compared to regular Coca-Cola. Just as Jet argued, the diet version foams up much more than the regular soda, forcing the attendant to stop and wait before more can be poured into the cup.

There's a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, according to McGill University's Office for Science and Society. First, the sugar in carbonated beverages curbs fizziness yet diet sodas lack this sugar, leading to more fizz and foam. Moreover, Diet Coke has a higher viscosity than standard sodas, which allows bubbles to linger longer. The result: A blanket of foam that takes time to die down.

What to order instead

In their now-famous blog post, Jet clarified that they don't actually mind serving Diet Coke to flight passengers, despite the fact that it can take longer than other drinks. Still, it might not be the ideal choice if you want to get your beverage fast.

Some of the best alternatives are also the simplest — think water, milk, or 100% juice. That's not only because these can be easy for flight attendants to prepare but also because they tend to be healthier options, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On that note, it's a good idea to skip caffeinated, alcoholic, or sugary drinks during your flight, which can exacerbate dehydration, per Medical News Today.

If you typically choose Diet Coke purely for the flavor, consider swapping it for another tasty drink that's quicker to prepare. One surprisingly delicious choice is tomato juice, which a Lufthansa study revealed tastes better in the air. As Lufthansa catering executive Ernst Derenthal shared with WHYY, "[A]s soon as you have it at 30,000 feet, tomato juice shows, let's say, its better side. It shows more acidity, it has some mineralic taste with it, and it's very refreshing."