The disgusting reason United Airlines flight attendants throw coffee pots in the trash

You may never have asked yourself this question, but there’s quite a debate at United Airlines about how flight attendants go about disposing of unwanted coffee and it’s for a pretty disgusting reason which involves feces human.

Unlike a home kitchen, flight attendants can’t just flush unwanted coffee down the drain…or, at the very least, they’re not supposed to. This is for two important reasons.

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First, when the plane is on the ground and still parked at the gate, the kitchen sink drains directly onto the tarmac below, which could result in severe burns to ground workers if hot coffee is spilled. down the drain.

But even in the air, major aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing would much rather flight attendants not pour coffee down the kitchen sink. Airplane drain pipes are incredibly sensitive and anything thicker than water poured down the sink has a nasty habit of coagulating into a thick, curdled mess that completely clogs the pipes.

Instead, many airlines instruct flight attendants to pour unwanted liquids like juice, milk, and coffee down the toilet. This is a fairly standard rule in the industry and modern aircraft are equipped with closed sewage systems, which means that whatever is in the waste tanks is emptied once on the ground.

But that’s not the case at United Airlines where flight attendants would much rather pour coffee down the kitchen sink and risk a blockage than pour the pot down the toilet and face the even more disgusting risk. splashes.

Commenting on recently updated procedures for disposal of coffee and other thick liquids, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), which represents airline crew members, told its members:

“We want to be clear, the AFA pleaded for the use of toilets for the evacuation of these liquids to be prohibited for the sake of sanitation”.

“These kitchen items should never be in aircraft lavatories due to safe food handling guidelines as they are items used to serve food and drink to passengers,” the memo continues. .

But what if the plane is still at the gate and a flight attendant needs to get rid of the coffee but doesn’t want to risk injuring a ground worker? In these circumstances, flight attendants will simply pour the entire jar into the trash.

None of this is new, however, and flight attendants have been reminded to keep doing what they’ve been doing for years.

“In most cases, the approach many of us have taken for years meets United’s safety objectives of avoiding injury to people on the ground and preventing clogged drains,” reassured the flight attendants. “Safety is always our top priority,” he continued.

Fortunately, other alternatives are slowly becoming available. The most modern are “kitchen waste disposal units”, which are a separate sink located in the kitchen that diverts thick liquids and other small wastes into waste water tanks.

There is, however, a much simpler workaround… it’s called a bucket. Most airlines don’t even offer this option.

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Mateusz Maszczynski


Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the Middle East’s most important airline and flew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centered stories. Always on the cutting edge, Matt’s knowledge, analysis and news coverage are often used by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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