[Video] What Happens When Pouring Diet Coke on an Airplane?

pouring diet coke in a airplane

Update/Disclaimer :

An article was recently posted on The Telegraph about “things that annoy flight attendants”. The highlight of the article was based on this post I wrote in 2013 about pouring diet coke. The article quotes a few lines from my blog post and a video demonstration I did at the time.

However it takes my post out of context. It implies that I find it irritating when passengers order diet coke. It also implies I was interviewed for the article so I want to make this clear:

I was not contacted by The Telegraph, this is evident in that they refer to me as “she” in their article. They never asked my permission to use my content, and I’m annoyed by the context in which they used my material.

Here is my official stance on passengers ordering Diet Coke, not that anyone should actually care: I don’t care what you want to drink. I’ll pour it, and I won’t have a second thought about it.



As you may know, the aircraft cabin is not pressurized to sea level, but rather to the equivalent of about 7 or 8 thousand feet. This means some passengers might feel a little light headed or that alcohol effects them almost twice as much as it would on the ground. It also means soft drinks foam up a lot more when poured out of a can. The worst culprit for this is Diet Coke. I literally have to sit and wait for the bubbles to fall before I can continue pouring. If all 3 passengers ask for diet coke I’ll often get them started, take another three drink orders, serve those, and then finish the diet cokes. As the infomercials say, “There’s GOT to be a better way!”

In fact there is! In the video below you can see me first pouring a diet coke the “normal” way, then pouring it the “smart” way.

As you can see, the can gets in the way and prevents the foam from forming. This saves so much time that I can pour a complete glass with ice the “smart” way before the foam even finishes falling when pouring the standard method. (That little cup full of melty ice was all we had left on the plane that day, normally with proper big cubes the effect of the foam is even bigger)

What you can’t see is that the diet coke doesn’t come out of the can when flipped upside down until you lift it up and tilt it slightly. This is because the air pressure is keeping the coke in the can. It makes pouring the diet coke very controllable and reduces the chances of spilling or overflow.

I know this seems like a minor detail, but at my airline we offer a full inflight service including hot towels, meals, bar, tea/coffee and more on flights over 3 hours. Pouring diet coke is one of the biggest slow downs in the bar service and on the shorter flights those precious seconds count!

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  1. Hi ‘Jet.’ Nice to see a new/fresh post from you.
    OK. I read it. I watched the video. Sorry to say it, but no dice. Basic science is not on your side, at least this time. I’ll spare you the multi-page details, but you won’t pass GO on this one. Yes, the Cabin Altitude does affect carbonated beverages and I’m sorry to learn that Diet Coke seems to be the most ‘foamy’ of the lot. (Especially since that’s what I’ll be drinking when flying, often in large quantity.) Frankly, a much better idea is to fill the plastic cup with ice, pop the pull-tab and then plop both on the customer’s tray and let them deal with the pouring. Oh, I know… providing a full can is just not Company Policy. Get over it – or get it changed; Anyone flying at Cabin Altitude of 6k – 8k for 3+ hours needs MORE than 5-6 Oz. of fluid intake. (How much do you and your colleagues try to pump down?)
    When I fly on one of the few airlines that still dispense non-alcoholic beverages by the cup, I ask for the can and, if necessary, assure them that I need the fluid.
    Your Company Policy may be about cabin hygiene and preventing spills, but I’d bet they are just trying to get two ‘servings’ from each can. When some jerk like me asks for the entire can, how do you respond? Plopping the can with a glass of ice has got to be a better choice than having to respond to the call bell every 20 minutes. And, does that nasty Company Policy differ when the customer requests flat bottled water?
    One way or another, I need to push fluids when flying. I reserve alcohol for the long-haul flights when I can ride near the pointy end of the airplane – and easily get as much water/soda/juice and is necessary to offset a little booze. When riding toward the back of your wonderful airplane, please don’t make me beg for water. (Sorry, but your on-board ‘tap’ water, labeled as ‘potable,’ just won’t cut it. Please be honest: Do YOU drink the airplane’s ‘tap’ water?
    Again, nice to see a new post from TGW. You must have a lot of great stories held in reserve. Best wishes,

  2. First I must apologize for the extreme delay in my reply. For whatever reason I never received a notification that a comment was posted here. And as you’ve probably noticed I’ve decided not to write for the time being for personal reasons. Reasons I’ll be explaining in January. 🙂

    Next I do want to say that the basic point of this article was to demonstrate how my method of pouring diet coke is more efficient than the traditional method of free pouring diet coke into a cup of ice. That’s it.

    Now to touch on the points you’ve raised:
    Our policy (as is the policy of all major airlines in Canada) is to serve half a can by pouring it into a glass with ice (Our glasses are larger than those on AC or WJ, I might add!). If the passenger requests a full can, then we are permitted (required!) to provide the can with a glass of ice.

    You also need to consider the fact that a 737 only has so much space on board, and combined with all the other items required to provide a complete service to 189 passengers (technically 378 since we are also catered in Canada for the return flight) there simply isn’t enough room to load a full can of pop for every passenger over 2 bar services per flight.) Remember that we are one of the last airlines that continue to provide a complementary hot meal service and more on every flight! That kind of service takes up a lot of space in the galleys and overhead bins.

    If your concerned about your fluid intake you should not be ordering diet coke. Caffeine dilates the blood vessels making the kidneys produce more water, making you use the washroom more often. In the long run you become more dehydrated.

    That leads me to your point about bottled water. We carry 1L bottles of bottled water for cabin service. We do not sell individual bottles, but we also do not serve the aircraft’s potable water. If you ask for water, your receiving a glass a bottled water from us. If you want more we’re happy to serve more.

  3. Jet, great response to the obviously out of touch Cedarglen! I’d only add one thing; Cedarglen, choose to be an intelligent, self-sufficient traveller and bring your own water.

  4. Why do airlines insist on doing the most idiotic and cheap things possible. How about just giving me the can, everybody walks away happy…

    1. I was surprised to see people commenting on this blog… I haven’t written in years. Anyway; That’s a good question Peter. I can’t speak for how airlines manage themselves in general, but at the company I work for we fly 737-800s which are famous for their small galleys. We just don’t have enough space to load enough cans of pop to give 189 people their choice of beverages as well as a full can. That said, I regularly give my passengers an entire can. I offer it on less full flights because I know I’ll have enough, otherwise they just have to ask.

      Interestingly, a lot of European airlines don’t offer any free beverages at all anymore. I recently learned this. 3 Euros for a can of Coke. I imagine it wont be long until we see the airlines in North America go full buy-on-board. In fact, We have a new Ultra-Low-Cost carrier that’s already started here in Canada, and Westjet is launching their own so this trend may already be here.

  5. Ya I usually ask for the whole can anyway so make me deal with it!! And it makes me happy !! No reason not to give a whole can!! I will down that in no time that is a sure way it won’t slow you down!! Keep up the good work but try it!!

  6. Would you lick the top of any soda can? No! So why would you insert it into the Cup to prevent bubbles?

  7. This is one of the most constructive, informative, not to mention respectful interchanges I have come across. Of course, you are Canadians ( the most considerate people on earth!) Thanks for the psychic lift.

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