Flight attendants really want you to stop ordering this drink
An airliner flying in the sky (Shutterstock)

After spending a few hours of your life being corralled into lines full of anxious travelers, having all of your personal belongings inspected by TSA agents, and squeezing yourself into an unreasonably small amount of space for the duration of a flight, the sound of a drink cart coming down an airplane aisle often signals a bit of relief for the dehumanizing rituals modern-day air travel forces upon us. One may not usually drink Bloody Marys or enjoy spending $7 on a minuscule bottle of alcohol, but our imbibing rules are often different in the air. Non-soda drinkers go from extolling the evils of Big Sugar to pleading with a flight attendant for the whole can, while non-water drinkers beg for the last drops of bottled water while stuck on the tarmac.

Traveling messes with our habits, but whether it's in your regular drinking practice or not, you may want to think twice before ordering a Diet Coke aboard a plane.

"I flew for over thirty years and I am going to tell you that without hesitation, Diet Coke is the slowest drink to pour because no matter how you pour it, it always bubbles up more than it pours out," explains Sandy Stein, who flew with Western Airlines from 1971 to 1986 and then Delta until 2006. She's pretty sure any flight attendant, current or retired, would agree.

Even using a professional strategy, Diet Coke is incredibly frustrating to pour in the air. "You can pour it on the side of the cup, you can pour it straight to the bottom of the cup, but it never matters," Stein says. "It fizzes up and it takes at least four times as long to pour than a regular—and might I add delicious—Coke. It ranks right up there with making a cup of tea."

In her three and a half decades as a flight attendant, Stein never had the opportunity to test other diet colas on board, but also couldn’t pull any tricks substituting a real Coke for a diet one. However, back in the day before ginger ale was available, if a passenger ordered the soda, Stein would surreptitiously mix Sprite with a few drops of Coke. "No one was the wiser," she says. "You got to do what you got to do when you are on a plane."

Abbie Unger, a former Continental flight attendant and the current owner of Flight Attendant Career Connection also attests to the difficulty of serving Diet Coke. "When the cabin is pressurized for your comfort, it is actually pressurized at a higher altitude than most of us are used to living at," she explains. "This affects the pressure in all sealed containers—and for some reason it makes Diet Coke exponentially fizzy, which equals extra pouring and serving times." Serving 175 people individual drink orders in under an hour is a challenge no matter where you are, but the "time-sucking" Diet Cokes with their extra fizz are the "most difficult to serve."

If you want a frustrated flight attendant, ordering Diet Coke is the way to go. "She wants to offer good service to every passenger, but the Diet Coke is slowing her down," Unger says. Add to that complaints about getting only half a cup of soda, which is what it looks like when the bubbles collapse.

To combat the extra fizz, Unger has a few tricks. "Sometimes I pop open a few cans of Diet Coke right before pulling my cart into the aisle," she says. "This allows the bubbles to begin to escape. Another trick is to pre-pour a couple of cups of Diet Coke right before service and roll out with 3-6 cups of Diet Coke on top of your cart. The last trick is to pour the Diet Coke into an empty glass and then add the ice. Diet Coke is extra-extra fizzy when poured over ice."

Alternatively, you could just order a seltzer.

h/t: Huffington Post