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Top five drinks while flying

What's your favourite tipple when in a plane? Is it on this list?

Drinking while on a plane – for me, down the years – is probably the thing about flying I most look forward to. Let’s face it, on a scheduled flight the food is usually just something you get down you to pass the time and I will never get used to the air pocket bumps. So, an in-flight drink is the thing I most enjoy.

Though, that said, I have noticed in recent years that the major airlines are getting far tighter in how they distribute drinks. Time was they would hand out miniatures, often a couple at a time. Now they pour it out of the bottle and the stewards and stewardesses often go missing for hours on end on long-distance flights and the bottle of your favourite tipple is nowhere to be seen.

So what’s your go-to inflight drink? Mine varies. Often it depends on how thirsty I am. If I have a raging thirst, I opt for one of two things – either a beer or I will order a sparkling water and a gin and tonic (not in the same glass, of course). My reasoning is that, if really parched, I want to take a really big swig of something. Beer is fine as you are still likely to leave a reasonable amount. But a really big gulp of a G&T is likely to leave me with little and, given my earlier remark about missing stewards, I can’t be having that. So, a great big swig of sparkling water to sate the thirst then I can enjoy the G&T at a more leisurely pace. If I don’t finish the water, who cares, I can always stick it in my pocket and take it with me.

Leading global aircraft charter broker, Air Charter Service* (note they are about charters, not scheduled main airline flights), has been looking at the drinking habits of the people on their services.

Unsurprisingly, half of those on board begin their journey with a glass of champagne, but retro drinks are making a comeback with nearly one-in-four passengers turning to a Bloody Mary with spice when in the sky. I like a Bloody Mary with loads of tobasco, but usually I am only in the mood for one when I am in “hair of the dog” mode. If I seek a change from the G&T my next favourite is a tall bourbon and coke.

Anyhow, Air Charter Service, has rounded up the top five most popular drinks (other than the obligatory glass of fizz) enjoyed at 30,000ft. How do they measure up to your favourites? They are:  

  1. Bloody Mary

According to a study conducted by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, the combination of dryness and low pressure reduces the sensitivity of taste buds to sweet and salty foods by around 30% and, in turn, adversely affects how we taste food and drink.  Approximately one-in-four (23%) of Air Charter Service’s customers turn to a Bloody Mary with spice on morning flights. The humble Bloody Mary is the perfect option to counteract this, with its rich tomato juice, tabasco, and punchy vodka, making it a tasty option.

2 Whisky  

Whisky is a great option for those looking for a high alcohol content to help soothe any in-flight nerves. Travellers can pre-order a bottle of their favourite whisky through Air Charter Service to enjoy onboard and close to one-in five (17%) of its customers opt for a mile-high malt as their tipple of choice.

3 Red wine

A red wine in the sky is a great way to unwind, relax and enjoy the flight. Although the dryer conditions of the cabin can dull out taste receptors, there are some fantastic wines to enjoy at high altitude, such as the elegant styles of pinot noir and Rioja. Reds such as Chianti or Cabernet, which are high in tannins, can taste leathery in the air, so are best avoided. Some experts also recommend drinking wine as early as possible in the flight before your mouth dries out from the low humidity. It is no wonder a bold glass of red is a popular choice for 12% of fliers.

4 White wine  

Some of the most delectable white wines are best enjoyed onboard through Bordeaux blends such as oaked chardonnays, due to their balanced acidity and elegance. The results of a cold crisp white wine can leave you feeling more down to earth than imagined – very much appreciated at high altitude by one-in-10 customers.

5 Martini

Renowned for being one of the most sophisticated alcoholic beverages, a martini is technically only made from two ingredients, spirit and vermouth.  According to Air Charter Service, 8% of passengers go for a Martini onboard. Shaken or stirred, the famous ultra-cool drink is a top choice for many, and with it only being made from two ingredients, there is simply no way you could ever have a bad martini.

*Air Charter Service is a leading global aircraft charter broker with 27 worldwide offices, spanning all six major continents and offers private jet, commercial airline, and cargo aircraft charters, as well as onboard courier solutions. Air Charter Service arranges more than 23,000 charter flights annually. To book private charter flights for the festive season visit or call 020 3820 7597.

I can’t think about drinks on a plane without recalling this classic advertisement

David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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