Random: Drink combos on airplanes

of Oct 2018, 00:50

I just recently came back from vacation and in my boredom on the flights over the Atlantic Ocean I wrote a short text on drink combos for split decisions on airplanes. Even though this is not the most serious article I felt like I wanted to share it. I hope this bridges the gap I have left of not tending to my website very well.

Having flown my fair share within Europe, attendants have often caught me on the wrong foot with me having to make split decisions on which drink to choose. Hence, I have developed a system of drink combinations that I can quickly take advantage of, depending on the time of day, my current mood and choice of sandwich provided.

Flying tourist class with normal carriers in Europe usually gives you free complimentary drinks and snacks. Unlike the choice of snack, which usually comprises one of two sandwiches, the choices in drink are usually a much more plentiful. If you book with a non-low-cost airline, you may usually choose more than one drink as well. For example, Lufthansa flight attendants even encourage choosing two drinks, asking passengers if they would like some coffee or tea with their first choice.

Here are some of my common combos for split decisions and their reasonings.

The classic breakfast:
Orange juice and coffee

Flights scheduled early in the morning often mean I might not have had the time to enjoy a proper breakfast. The tiredness kicks back in after running to the airport in a hurry because I most likely timed my arrival without margin to maximize my time in bed. This calls for vitamins, hydration and caffeine. Not that orange juice served on the plane is as good as fresh pressed, but at least its strong orange taste can counter the hard hitting airplane coffee.

The tiny morning spa:
Apple juice and black tea

Airplane coffee, like many cheap roasts, have a tendency to activate my bowel movement rather effectively. Particularly if I hadn’t had the chance to visit the bathroom before traveling, choosing that cup of airplane coffee should be seriously reconsidered. Fortunately, there is another drink providing caffeine but with the exact opposite effect: black tea. Coupled with a cup of apple juice, this combo can at least give you a hint of wellness and comfort in economy class.

The full menu:
Tomato juice and coffee with cream

If everything revolves around the meal, you make it a three course one. Tomato juice in airplanes is something I never understood as a child, but once the thought hit me that it basically is nothing more than cold tomato soup my view on the whole issue suddenly changed. Tomato juice is usually as thick as a Spanish gazpacho and you will be asked if you like salt and pepper with yours - which you should accept! Eat your sandwich after the soup and finish the meal off with a desert coffee. I usually ask for cream and sugar to give it that sweet desert twist.

The thirsty traveler (Lufthansa special):
Alcohol free beer and tomato juice or tea.

Every major airline usually offers some special that represents the country they are from. ANA from Japan offers sake, Portuguese TAP (used to) offer port wine and Lufthansa gives you beer – in glass bottles! Not only is the beer stored in neutral glass, but every passenger receives the full 0.33l bottle, which is about three regular airplane cups worth of liquid. Instead of the regular alcoholic version, I recommend the alcohol free one as it is much more effective in quenching the thirst. Depending if I want to drink the beer before or after my accompanying drink, I either order a tea for after or a tomato juice as a appetizer.

The caffeine push-up:
Cola and coffee

Incredibly, airplanes can make good offices with little distractions. Unfortunately, the constant noise drone of the engines and air vents has a soothing effect that something can almost magically make me fall asleep. Not rarely have I slept through an entire 2h flight from even before we took off waking up just with the rough hit of the wheels back on the ground. If work is crucial for this flight, I go for the extreme to give me that extra attention push and one of the oldest combos in my book: cola and coffee.

The I’m sick mom:
Two black teas with extra lemon

Sometimes traveling when sick is unavoidable. This is probably the least favorable time to inhale the dry air coming out the cabin vents. This calls for something to soothe the throat. Of course its best to try and get the tea as warm as possible and simply inhale the first steam before it cooled down enough to drink. Ask for extra lemon slices and either push them into the tea with your stirring stick or fish them out and bit into them directly.


There are probably a few more combinations I might have used in the past, but these are the principal ones I can come up with while writing this article at the moment. Instead of being overwhelmed of choices when torn out of sleep, decisions can be made much more easily. Having these at hand also helps me mix-and-match and eases extrapolating on them if necessary the thirsty-traveler combo above being one example.

One additional tip on the Lufthansa sandwich: the flight attendants will usually arrive asking if you want one of the other sandwich type, defined by its principal ingredient: chicken, ham, salami, pastrami or cheese, to mention a few. Keep in mind though, that in my experience a cheese sandwich not always has the same sauce or toppings on every flight. Even the type of bread can change, with brezel-type dough being used for some, once in a while. Personally the combination of the whole sandwich is more important to me that simply the main ingredient, so I can recommend asking the flight attendants if they can tell you what each sandwich comes with. There is also no shame in asking them to perhaps quickly show you each one for a quick glance.