Melissa Locker
December 19, 2017

Drinking on a plane is a surprisingly complicated business. Many of the beverages that you would normally order aren’t great options at 20,000 feet in the air.

The exuberant bubbliness of Diet Coke can aggravate flight attendants, drinking coffee or tea on planes can be risky business for some pretty icky reasons, and there’s not an airline on the planet that has mastered the art of sweet tea.

While you may be tempted to skip the drinks all together, dehydration can be a real problem on airplanes. Not only can it make you more prone to air sickness, but it can increase your chances of getting jet lag, contribute to high-altitude headaches, and make it more likely that you’ll get sick after you get off the plane. Not to mention, airplane cabins are already dry, so skipping water would make your skin even drier after the flight. All that’s to say, skipping the drink cart on a plane isn’t a great idea.

So, what should you order during your flight? The short answer is water. It will keep you hydrated, won’t annoy the flight crew, and is necessary for staying alive. That said, it’s kind of boring and many of us already have water bottles in our carry-on luggage. Plus, since airlines give so few perks these days, you want to take advantage of the ones they do offer, like free soft drinks and juice.

Soft drinks are fine, of course, but if you’re looking for a healthier option, some people swear by tomato juice. If the very thought of drinking tomato juice sounds terrible, bear with us, because many people find it tastes better when served in the sky. In fact, according to Lufthansa, more tomato juice is served in-flight, gallon-wise, than beer. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times, says there’s a scientific explanation for this, namely the low humidity, high pressure, noisy environment of an airplane can affect your taste buds, making sugary drinks taste worse. Tomato juice, being a savory beverage, can actually have its flavor enhanced by the high-flying environment. Another reason to ask for a glass of tomato juice is that it’s packed with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help lower the risk of stroke, prostate cancer, and metabolic diseases. The drawback to drinking tomato juice, though, is that there is a high salt content, which can add to dehydration.

The better option is to ask for seltzer water with a splash of cranberry juice. It has all the bubbles of a soft drink and a dash of flavor and Vitamin C from the cranberry juice, all without the sugar, calories, and chemicals of a soda. Delicious and hydrating is a great choice for air travel.