On my latest flight trip, I decided to step away from my regular drinks. Normally, I opt for Cranberry Cocktail, Orange Juice or Sprite. But the flight crew was really comical and interactive, and even made a comment about mixing drinks together. I decided, “Why not?” and opted to mix the Orange Juice with Sprite. To which he replied that that mix is fairly common and told me to “Live on the Wild Side.” So I asked for his suggestion on what would dial up the “wild” factor he was alluding to.
Given that there are finite options on an airplane and I wasn’t interested in paying for alcohol, he came up with the following: Coke Zero and Cranberry Cocktail. In addition to the Orange Juice and Sprite. I guess this really turned it into a Cranberry “Cocktail”. Taste-wise it wasn’t bad because of the mix ratios (about 70% OJ), but it was nice to have a quick Coca-Cola Freestyle moment on the flight. Here’s my drink on the flight.
So my thought starter as a result of this interaction?
Would there come a day when flights are equipped with more than just the regular assortment of fast-selling canned beverages – like Coke, Pepsi, Club Soda, and Cranberry juice? How likely is it to get Coca-Cola Freestyle (with over 100 different customizable beverage options) on a flight? What would it take to make this happen? Are we currently moving to this state already?
The simple answer to those questions: No. Based on my observations & understanding, an airline’s beverage assortment is geared toward the top-selling and popular options. For example, if a Vanilla Coke alternative existed, would it be “turn” fast enough to beat the expiration date? Despite it having a cult following, this just isn’t a regular beverage option. Keeping in mind that flight guests typically don’t know what the airline’s beverage assortment consists of. This means that suggestive selling or flight-attendant input is heavily needed in order to move through slow-turning beverage options.
Operating a Coke Freestyle machine would involve many complicated moving pieces. For example, how would the syrup be best stored to be protected from denaturing during different altitudes? Which beverage options should the airline carry on board the plane? Will they need more syrup cartridges of the popular flavors and less of the more niche offerings? This also does not solve the problem of slow-turning alternatives. And let’s not forget the most obvious problem: carbonated tanks. Forgetting about all the various beverage options and the obvious hazards of carrying carbonated tanks through different air pressure, there is still too much equipment store needed to make this work. And we haven’t even gotten to the financial part of this alternative. Ultimately, my thought starter would end up being a non-starter. Fountain units are not meant for air travel.
Another interesting observation: I never knew that planes had lemon and lime substitutes, but apparently they exist like sugar packets. Feast your eyes on an image taken in flight (and posted later to BevWire upon arrival) of crystalized lemon and lime packets. Now that would have been a party if I had added this into my new Cranberry Cocktail!