Airplane Water Quality Is Even Worse Than Previously Believed

anyaberkut/iStock via Getty Images
anyaberkut/iStock via Getty Images

While air travel is convenient, there's never any promise it will be particularly clean. Security checkpoint bins and airplane tray tables are notorious for harboring germs. In addition to being careful of what you touch, you need to be cautious about what you drink.

Air travelers have been warned in the past about the questionable water quality of major airlines. Owing to inconsistent water transport issues, storage methods, and lackadaisical monitoring, several studies and investigations—including a 2004 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—have found bacterial contamination and even insect eggs lurking in liquid served to passengers in the form of coffee and tea.

Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t appear to be getting any better. A new study on the quality of airline tap water conducted by the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center found E. coli, coliform bacteria, and other unpleasantries across 11 commercial and 12 regional carriers.

The study ranked airlines according to water quality tests, and whether airlines were forthcoming in disclosing how they handle water transportation and storage for in-flight plumbing, using a scale of 1 to 5. While some airlines, like Alaska and Allegiant, scored well at 3.3, others (including JetBlue, Spirit, Delta, and United) ranked poorly in terms of delivering healthy, clean water, which is often sourced from local municipalities.

Low scores also indicated a lack of transparency about the airlines' water monitoring process. Moving the water from its source through hoses and tanks can create opportunities for the water to become contaminated.

How can questionable water be served? While the EPA introduced an Aircraft Drinking Water Rule in 2011 that mandated quarterly cleanings of airplane holding tanks and bacteria tests, Condé Nast Traveler reports that the agency does little to enforce it, typically opting not to issue fines to airlines found to be in violation of the terms.

The study’s authors recommend people avoid drinking tap water, coffee, or tea while on airplanes and should instead opt for bottled water. Because the stored water is also used for lavatory sinks, it’s possible you might introduce germs to your hands even after “cleaning” them. Hand sanitizer is recommended.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

"World's Largest Puzzle" From Kodak Is 28 Feet Long With 51,300 Pieces

Kodak, Amazon
Kodak, Amazon

After more than a month in quarantine, you may start to find that the jigsaw puzzles in your house don't quite meet your needs now that you have a seemingly unlimited amount of time to spend inside. But as Insider reports, this 51,300-piece jigsaw puzzle from Kodak might fit the bill.

At 28.5-feet wide and 6 feet tall, the "world's largest puzzle," as Kodak calls it, requires its own decent-sized room. Instead of one scene, it consists of 27 distinct photographs of landmarks from around the world, including the Great Wall of China, the Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal. The 27 components are individually packaged as 1900-piece puzzles, so you can focus on one image at time before stitching them together.

"World's Largest Puzzle" from Kodak.
Kodak, Amazon

According to the photography company, "Each photo was initially taken by a professional photographer, then digitally enhanced and printed in high quality. You'll see the quality in every piece."

There are many puzzles out there that go beyond the classic format. You can find clear puzzles, solid-color puzzles, and edgeless puzzles that will tease your brain for hours. But if you're looking for something to eat up all the extra time you have at home, this 51,300-piece behemoth definitely can't be finished in an afternoon. You can purchase it for $410 on Amazon, but supplies are low. If you want a somewhat comparable 40,000-plus piece Disney puzzle to try your hand at, this one is in stock.

[h/t Insider]

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Win a Custom Road-Tripping Van While Donating to Conserve America’s Climbing Landscapes

Whoever wins the van from Omaze can customize it to suit their tastes.
Whoever wins the van from Omaze can customize it to suit their tastes.
Omaze/Vansmith

If you’ve ever dreamed of hopping in a car, van, or motorcycle and just traveling the open road in search of nature and adventure, you’re not alone. It’s a temptation that has inspired works by authors like Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck, along with countless movies from Easy Rider to Dumb & Dumber. Now, you can live out your own road-tripping tale with this chance to win a Mercedes-Benz 4x4 Sprinter Cargo Van, thanks to Omaze.

Along with the base van, winners will also receive up to $60,000 worth of customizations from Vansmith, so you can tailor your new four-wheeled getaway vehicle for short trips, long odysseys, or permanent residency, if you’re into the whole vandweller lifestyle. (You can see some of Vansmith's recent customizations here, which include beds, tiny kitchens, and more.) The winner has a choice of having the van sent directly to them or be flown to Boulder, Colorado, to pick it up from Vansmith so they can start their road trip right away.

It’s free to enter once, but if you want to increase your chances, you can donate $10 for 100 entries, $25 for 250, $50 for 1000, or $100 for 2000. And all the proceeds go directly to Access Fund, an organization with a mission to protect America’s climbing landscapes for today’s climbers and future generations of outdoorspeople.

All told, the approximate retail value of the package is $112,000 (Omaze takes care of the taxes), and if you’re looking to enter, you’ve got until May 28, with the winner being announced on or around June 17. Try your luck by entering here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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