How to stay hydrated whilst flying

Ok, let’s not make this sound more scientific than it really is. The trick to staying hydrated whilst flying, or in any situation really, is to drink water… lots of it and on a regular basis. But this is not what I mean.

Most of my flights are short haul, so I don’t have to worry too much about dehydrating really.

But even if my flights are rarely longer than one or two hours, I need some water in between, so I almost always end up buying a bottle at water at the airport… after security obviously, so that the 100ml fluid rule does not apply.

But don’t you just hate it that almost all airports rip you off, just to buy a bottle of water? I get so annoyed with it every time, as there isn’t much you can do.

To be honest, London’s airports aren’t too bad. But go to mainland Europe and this is a whole different story. Which is why I have compiled a couple of tricks to save you some money.

How best to avoid hefty charges at the airport

If you want to avoid paying top money for a basic bottle of water, there are a few things you can do:

  • Bring a bottle: Whilst most travellers nowadays are aware of the 100ml rule for fluids in their hand luggage (saying that, I am always amazed by the amount of people at security that are completely unaware of this rule despite about 15 warning signs and bins until you get to security and then look completely terrified when the freshly bought pricy bottle of water goes into the bin), not many seem to be aware that this only applies to FILLED bottles. There is no problem whatsoever if you were to take an empty water bottle with you. At some airports you will even find water dispensers that allow you to re-fill those empty bottles. And if not, the tap in the washrooms usually does the trick nicely (unless you are in Heathrow, where there is only lukewarm water coming out of the taps unfortunately).
  • Check the prices: even within one airport the prices seem to vary quite a bit for a bottle of water. Some airports will offer cheap(ish) water in the duty free shop, however this will almost always be at room temperature. The minute you want a chilled bottle, you are back to not so chilled prices. Also if you are travelling in Germany, be aware that they charge a deposit for all bottles. So not only might they charge an exorbitant amount for the bottle to start with, they will then include another 25 Eurocents, which you would get back when returning the bottle (which is a little tricky if you are just about to take off).
  • Ask for tap water on board: OK I grant you, some low cost airlines will not serve you free tap water, even if you ask nicely, however British Airways will. Back in January BA stopped serving free food and drinks on their short haul flights (apart from BA Cityflyer, where you could still enjoy this perk for a little longer, but even there it is about to seize). So don’t be shy and just ask for a tap water. You will have to wait a little, as they will continue to serve everyone else first, but they will eventually serve you some free tap water).
  • Use the airport lounge: Yes you are right, this option is not for everyone. But if you are a frequent flyer (and usually stick to one airline), you might be entitled to enter the airline lounge (for British Airways, which is my usual go-to airline, this means you will need to reach Silver tier or buy a business class ticket). And even if you don’t automatically have access to lounges, at some airports you can buy a lounge pass for the day. Yes, I have to admit this will be more expensive than just buying a bottle of water. So if you only have a short time at the airport, this might not be worth it. However if, like me, you end up spending hours at the airport, buying a lounge pass can be a more lucrative option than sitting in a café for hours. As they usually serve free hot and cold drinks, some snacks or even proper food. So if you spend four five hours waiting for your flight, adding up several coffees, a bottle of water, lunch and snacks can add up to a lot more than the lounge pass would cost you.

And to help you find your way around, here is a list of little airport hacks (to be continued):

LHR – Heathrow

Terminal 5

In some of the satellites (so 5b and 5c) you will find water dispensers (both drink fountains and to fill up bottles) near the washrooms. However not in the main T5 building.
LHR – Heathrow

Terminal 2

There are water fountains (both for drinking and for filling up your bottles) near the washrooms, so bring an empty bottle.
LCY – London City Airport No water fountains and only warm water coming from the taps. So you will have to buy yourself a bottle of water, I’m afraid (prices start at around £1 for half a liter).
FRA – Frankfurt

Terminal 2

There are water fountains next to the washrooms, however not necessarily suitable for filling up bottles. Also this is after passport control, but before the security checks, so you won’t be able to fill up and take on board. But the tap water is drinkable and cold (and available AFTER security).

Also you can buy half a liter of water in a tetra pack (so no 25c bottle deposit) in the duty free shop for 1 Euro (at room temperature, not chilled. Remember to have it sealed in a clear plastic bag, if you want to take it on board, as the main duty free shop is before security)

HAM – Hamburg If you have an empty bottle, there is a water fountain near passport control for gates B37-45.
CPH – Copenhagen

Terminal 3

If you have an empty bottle, you can fill it up in the washrooms. Some of the taps are specifically labelled as drinking water and you can adjust the temperature of the tap, giving you crisp cold water.
GOT – Gothenburg There are water dispensers next to the washrooms, so make sure you bring an empty bottle.
STD – London-Stansted Unfortunately no water fountain and no way to regulate temperature of taps in the basin; so you will have to buy yourself a bottle of water, I am afraid.

List last updated: 05.09.2017

Anything to add? Let me know your little secrets on how to stay hydrated (and how to get the best experience at the airport).

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4 Comments

  1. Eeva / Oh, wie nordisch!

    In Frankfurt in Terminal 1 there are many drink fountains, usually near the bathrooms. I have filled my empty bottle at various ones, a small bottle is no problem.

    Reply
    • Travel for a living

      Thanks for the info. Hardly ever fly from Terminal 1, so didn’t have that on my radar (saying that, I did arrive in T1 this week, but didn’t pay any attention when leaving).

      Reply
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