I was flying with Ryanair last month and wanted to take some vitamin pills while on board. I went down to the end of the plane and asked for a glass of water, but the stewardess refused. Since the only other option was to buy a 3EUR bottle, I decided to take the pills later.

Is there some EU law which obligates airlines to provide water while on board? What about if someone needs water to take their medicine?

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    It's difficult to prove a negative, but there's no requirement that airlines have to give away water, except perhaps in some emergency or patient illness. The majority of European carriers offer free water, I suggest you take your business to a carrier who meets your requirements.
    – Calchas
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 9:44
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    @Calchas some countries (e.g. Ireland) require that tap water is served for free at all bars and restaurants. I was thinking there could be something similar for airplanes.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 9:46
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    You wouldn't want to drink "tap water" on a plane: it comes from a grotty tank, which is why the water from the bathroom tap is clearly marked as non-drinkable and the water you get from the drinks trolley is poured from a bottle. Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 15:39
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    Related question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/24968/…
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 2:19
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    I flew Pegasus recently, with no water on the Moscow - Istanbul let, a dehydrating sprint to the Istanbul - Tel Aviv flight, with no time to buy anything on the run, and no water on the flight (including an hour-long wait to taxi). Meanwhile, the in-flight magazine "recommends" keeping hydrated as much as possible. Criminal behavior. Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


No, there are no requirements for airlines within the EU to provide free drinking water. I know that it is both common and in some countries even required by law for bars and restaurants to serve tap water for free. If tap water is good enough, I guess that not even Ryanair would have charged you for drinking tap water aboard the plane, but it might not have been very beneficial for your digestion over the next couple of days :)

Your question is however not as strange as it might sound. There are movements within the EU to at least force airports to sell reasonably priced or offer free drinking water in the secure areas. Since fluids were banned in hand luggage, many airports exploit the situation and charge horrendous amounts for bottled water or other drinks in the secure area, making it necessary for EU's consumer protection division to take action.

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