Broken Coffeemakers Are Causing an ‘Inordinate Number’ of Flight Delays

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Prepare for some turbulence.
Photo: Jupiterimages/Getty Images

Anyone easily frustrated by airlines delaying flights for ludicrous reasons should take a few deep breaths now — it’s maybe even worse than you thought: Industry insiders tell the New York Times that, for some reason, an “inordinate amount” of coffeemaker malfunctions are causing short delays on all three major U.S. airlines. Dumb as that sounds, it actually starts making sense in light of everything that has to go right for these clunky brewing devices, which cost up to $20,000, to operate successfully on planes. Per the Times:

They are electrical, so if one isn’t working, the ground crew needs to make sure there’s not a problem with the circuitry that could cause a fire or other hazard. …

Other special features include latches to ensure that the coffeepot does not shake loose during turbulence. These elaborately engineered details mean there is more that can go wrong.

Even the water “is complicated” and can “contribute to breakdowns,” since cleaning chemicals and minerals in the water leave residue that clogs lines. And if a machine breaks down with no spare parts on hand, the plane apparently can’t take off until a mechanic comes aboard and disables both the water and power going into it. American Airlines’ chief of operations has gotten so fed up he’s suggested upgrading “all the coffee makers,” but as an airplane repairman explains to the Times: “You can’t just put Mr. Coffee in an airline. You have to do all kinds of engineering and analysis and provide test results to the F.A.A. to get approval.” Pour-over it is definitely not.

The alternative, though, is continuing to have embarrassing public Twitter exchanges like this with angry passengers stuck on the tarmac:

Of course, bad as this is, it could still get worse: Dutch airliner KLM just announced it’s going to start serving draft beer on flights. Surely, the safety issues for pressurized kegs at 30,000 feet will present no troubles whatsoever.

Broken Coffeemakers Now Causing Tons of Flight Delays