Some of the most wild-ass people I’ve ever met in my life have been pilots. They party harder than you (and more often), they have seen some stuff, and they will freely share some let’s-say-pretty-galaxy-brained opinions on a host of non-flight-related topics (political, societal, etc) after a drink or two or 10. But then when the time comes, they compartmentalize all of that and keep hundreds of passengers gracefully floating a mile high blissfully unaware of the utter chaos that exists inside those smart little outfits.
Perhaps it’s got something to do with breathing all that recycled air, but it turns out their in-flight counterparts may be equally unhinged, and it may have you questioning where you grab that first coffee of the day when you out of town. Flight attendants, it turns out, allegedly have a penchant for using hotel coffee makers to wash their… delicates.
The frankly horrifying discovery comes via Bon Appetit as part of their The Receipt series, where they ask readers how they eat and what they spend doing it. In this particular episode, they talked with a 40-year-old Queens, NY-based flight attendant about eating and life on the road (or airway as it were). And she let on a bit of oral history from flight attendant circles that has me rethinking the chain of custody for all out-of-town communal brewing vessels.
“Many senior mamas like to tell horror stories about in-room coffee pots being used to rinse pantyhose, among other things.”
Excuse me, but what?! Presumably there has to be some grand backstory here. Most pilots and flight attendants fly with a sufficient number of changes of clothes for the number of nights they will be away. Did this particular flight attendant forget? Or did an unplanned night of tying one too many on led to this fateful event? Putting your whites through a hot cycle in the coffee maker seems like a desperate act. Surely there is an equally compelling story to accompany it.
The subject of the Receipt article admits that it may all be an urban legend, because, as she puts it, “I can’t imagine anyone actually doing it.” But the story does have legs. Bon Appetit notes that a similar story has been corroborated by a Reddit commenter, and in another thread both flight attendants and hotel employees suggest getting your coffee outside your room.
So whether or not this is all actually true or just a weird game of 500mph death tube telephone, no one can say. Still, it’s enough for me to run, not walk, to the nearest specialty cafe whenever I’m not at home. (Thank you, Sprudge Maps!) But, on the bright side, I think I finally found a good use for my forgotten home French press. That plunging action really gets the stains out.