Airlines Serving The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Airlines Serving The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks


When talking about drinks served in first & business class, understandably the focus is often on alcohol, especially great champagne. However, it goes without saying that not everyone drinks alcohol. For that matter, even many who usually drink may not want much alcohol when flying, since it’s not exactly great for beating jetlag.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to talk about the airlines that serve the best non-alcoholic beverages. It seems to me like this is an area where lots of airlines drop the ball — they’ll invest in $100+ bottles of champagne, but then will have a really lackluster non-alcoholic drink list.

In this post I wanted to share some of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks served on airlines. Of course this is subjective, so these are just some of my favorites, and I’d love to hear what others like. I also want to mention that I’m avoiding “generic” drinks that you’ll find on dozens of airlines, like cappuccinos (as much as I love great coffee). Rather I’m trying to include rarer options.

With that out of the way, below are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

Cathay Delight on Cathay Pacific

The Cathay Delight is one of Cathay Pacific’s signature drinks in first & business class. It consists of kiwi, coconut milk, and fresh mint. It strikes a perfect balance between being refreshing and tasty, all without being overly sweet. Yum.

Cathay Delight in Cathay Pacific business class

Lemon mint juice on Qatar Airways

As a general rule of thumb, I don’t drink juice on planes. That’s because it’s rarely fresh. On the ground, the term I generally use for bad orange juice is “airplane orange juice,” which should give you a sense of my feelings on the matter. However, I do have one favorite airplane juice, and that’s Qatar Airways’ lemon mint juice, which is incredibly refreshing. I order this on almost every Qatar Airways flight.

Lemon mint juice in Qatar Airways first class

Blueberry juice on Finnair

Finnish cuisine is known for its use of berries, and Finnair incorporates that into its onboard service with a unique juice — Finnair serves blueberry juice in both business class and economy. While this isn’t “fresh,” it’s still one of the best juice drinks you’ll find on any airline. It’s so popular that you can even buy the Finnair branded blueberry juice in select supermarkets in Finland.

Blueberry juice in Finnair business class

Teh tarik on Malaysia Airlines

Teh tarik (literally translated “pulled tea,” because of how it’s made) is a hot, traditional milk tea served in Malaysia. While on the sweet side, it’s super tasty, and is available in Malaysia Airlines business class, even on short haul flights.

Teh tahrik in Malaysia Airlines business class

Hong Kong style milk tea on Cathay Pacific

Hong Kong style milk tea is traditionally made with black tea and milk. Cathay Pacific serves this in first & business class, though in reality the airline makes it with a powdered mix. So while it’s not as good as what you’ll get on the ground in Hong Kong, it’s still a treat to get on a plane. Be warned that this is rather sweet, so think of it more as a dessert-type indulgence, rather than a typical cup of tea.

Hong Kong style milk tea in Cathay Pacific first class

Karak chai on Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways serves both saffron and cardamom flavors of karak chai, which is essentially a strong tea with some milk and sugar. Personally the saffron flavored one is my favorite, though both are good. Qatar Airways sometimes runs out of these onboard, so I recommend ordering one with the first meal service if you definitely want to try it.

Karak chai in Qatar Airways business class

Iced coffee creations on Austrian Airlines

While some other airlines serve “regular” iced coffee, Austrian Airlines has a special coffee menu, with a variety of Eiskaffee specialties. This consists of sweet dessert-like treats that typically have ice cream, some amount of coffee, and whipped cream. Mmmm….

Iced coffee creation in Austrian Airlines business class

Iced coffee on Royal Brunei, EVA Air, & Starlux Airlines

While there are plenty of airlines with decent hot coffee, there are very few airlines serving iced coffee on planes. I find that to be odd, since it seems like a pretty low cost thing to offer, and iced coffee has become increasingly popular globally (especially in the United States). Specifically, EVA Air, Starlux Airlines, and Royal Brunei, all served iced coffee in business class.

Iced coffee in Starlux Airlines business class

Cold brew on Delta

Even better than iced coffee, Delta has a partnership with Explorer Cold Brew, and serves cold brew on select premium routes. This is complimentary in business class and Comfort+, and available for purchase in economy. I hope we see this expand not just to more Delta flights, but also to more US airlines.

Cold brew in Delta Comfort+

Iced oat milk cappuccinos on JetBlue

When it comes to an impressive iced coffee game, I think nothing can compete with JetBlue Mint on transatlantic flights. The airline has iced cappuccinos and iced lattes. The airline even has oat milk, for those who prefer non-dairy options.

Iced cappuccinos in JetBlue business class

Bottom line

While plenty of airlines serve expensive champagne in first & business class, surprisingly few airlines invest in great non-alcoholic drinks. The above are some of my favorite hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks in the sky, though admittedly we all have different preferences.

What are your favorite non-alcoholic beverages served on planes?

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  1. Malc Gold

    In case anyone's interested, Cathay Pacific's Cathay Delight isn't actually dairy-free. It has milk in it (along with coconut milk).

  2. Snory Guest

    Along this line, you should try Thai Airways Thai milk tea with grass jelly. They cheap out on number of bottle of champagne loaded per flight but this Thai milk tea soften the blow of that quite a bit.

  3. Alex M Guest

    JetBlue has started offering Athletic Brewing Co. beers (which are excellent). I would love to see more airlines offer a decent NA beer offering as that market is booming right now.

  4. iamhere Guest

    I really dislike these posts with the lists because nobody chooses an airline because of their F&B offerings well of course unless you are in the business of reviewing it....

  5. MetsNomad Guest

    My favorites so far (in economy) are the guava juice on Korean Air and the sour cherry juice on Turkish Airlines. Honorable mention goes to the Egils Applesín (orange soda) on Icelandair.

  6. JW in GA Guest

    Can anyone confirm an actual sighting of this Delta cold brew coffee? Seems to be as plentiful as J award seats these days...

    Let's see I've asked (while in Comfort+) on transcon flights from/to ATL and SNA, ONT, SAN, SLC (transcon-ish). Usually the FA's are clueless or maybe have seen it once or twice before. Does this really exist???

  7. crosscourt Guest

    And before anyone says they do, look at the picture in the article for the delta drink. And no excuse saying the pre take off drink is in plastic so you can hang on to it for take off. Rubbish, they still take it away.

  8. crosscourt Guest

    And when will US carriers stop using plastic cups to serve drinks instead front cabins? I can't call them premium cabins even though they're supposed to be. The wastage, and plastic pollution and cost saving using reusable glass, etc.

  9. Dan Guest

    Thank you so much for this post. As a non-drinker, I didn’t think beverages could get any better than standard cans of soda, but this list really changes my flying aspirations to get a chance to try them all!

  10. Matt Guest

    I love that Qatar offers multiple non alcoholic drinks

  11. KCW Guest

    “Hong Kong style milk tea is traditionally made with black tea and milk.”

    While technically true, it should be noted that this isn’t just “milk”, but specifically evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Otherwise you might be describing english breakfast tea which uses just “regular” milk. The evaporated and condensed milks make for a much different tea to a breakfast tea.

  12. kash Guest

    Saudia does date smoothie and cardamom tea

  13. Fonzi Guest

    You forgot Saudia.
    The Date pistachio drink was phenomenal and also their lime juice with mint.

  14. Jay Guest

    Best year-round drink: JAL's Queen of Blue royal tea
    Best limited-time drink: ANA's Mapple apple juice
    Best drink available in economy: ANA's signature Aromatic Kabosu

  15. 9volt Gold

    Throw in a vote for the Mint Limeade in JetBlue Mint.

  16. Jacob Guest

    The fact he didn’t mention JAL at all. LOL. What a joke this article is.

    1. Happy reader Guest

      That's a bit harsh, he had some great picks also everyone has different opinions and last time he wrote an article similar with best emerald status lounges he forgot Sakura lounge, someone (kindly) mentioned it and he (kindly) responded oh wow I knew I was forgetting one! And he promptly added it to the article. With the amount of airlines there are you're bound to miss something.

  17. Omar Guest

    I don't blame him given the quantity of articles he writes but this is a recycle of a previous article with nothing added to it.

  18. Fobinator Guest

    Seriously, not one mention of JAL or ANAs signature drinks? And what about Vietnamese Iced Coffees on Vietnam Airways? SMH!

  19. James Guest

    Wow, failed article. Ben presumes no high-end non-alcoholic beverages?
    What about Japanese airlines and $60 per bottlr juices and teas?

  20. Lukas Gold

    This is another recycled article, FYI.

  21. Tejas Guest

    My personal favorite is the kabosu served on ANA, I get it every time I can.
    It’s a cirtus-y drink that’s also available in economy cabins.

    It’s delicious, extremely refreshing, and not too sweet.

  22. Daniel Guest

    I always love having the "Sonata in the Air" mocktail on Eva Air flights. It's rather simple with just pineapple juice, cranberry juice and Sprite (plus ice and a slice of lime) - but so tasty and refreshing!

    Besides that, I mostly just go with water and different teas, plus sometimes orange juice in Europe (don't like the very sweet orange juices in Asia which don't taste like orange at all). Guess I'm saving the airlines good money with my cheap choices.

  23. Mike Guest

    What about Turkish Airlines lemonade and actually being one of the few who serves freshly made orange juice?

    1. Marco Guest

      That orange juice on Turkish Airlines is so amazingly fresh and lovely. I can't even drink grocery bought orange juice without diluting it first with some water lol.

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Fonzi Guest

You forgot Saudia. The Date pistachio drink was phenomenal and also their lime juice with mint.

Marco Guest

That orange juice on Turkish Airlines is so amazingly fresh and lovely. I can't even drink grocery bought orange juice without diluting it first with some water lol.

kash Guest

Saudia does date smoothie and cardamom tea

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