Airlines Serving The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Airlines Serving The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks

37

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 recently launched a partnership with Explorer Cold Brew, and now 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?

Conversations (37)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Karen Guest

    Aromatic kabosu drink on ANA was amazing! It's been a good 5+ years since I flew with them so not sure if it's still around

  2. Nick Guest

    Oman air- Karak tea with cardamom!!

  3. Kevin Guest

    Definitely need to include Japan Airlines Royal Blue Tea.

  4. Aaron Guest

    Don't forget the So Jennie "rose" on QR!!!

  5. beth Guest

    Hot Chocolate on air france. Maybe it's the altitude but it's good.

  6. Quinten Guest

    Turkish serves Turkish coffee, fresh orange juice (from IST) and has lovely pre-departure lemonades. All jummy!

  7. JC Guest

    JAL has a series of non-alcoholic drinks called SkyTime. The best one is their yuzu (Japanese citrus) one though it hasn't been served since 2011...

    1. Joe Jones Guest

      JAL also has "Royal Blue Tea" served out of wine bottles in F.

  8. vlcnc Guest

    I know you probably don't fly economy much, but one thing that did impress me about flying economy on Cathay Pacific was they actually served freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast in economy! The cabin crew even had a orange squeezer on the trolley fitted. Given some airlines serve not fresh orange even in Business, that is quite impressive.

  9. iamhere Guest

    What a shame that Cathay does not make fresh milk tea. That's almost as bad as instant coffee. It's only black tea and milk. In addition, the sugar issue with milk tea on the plane. It is kind of like coffee in a way. When you order milk tea on the ground you can customize the amount of sugar but clearly can't do this when it comes from a package. Further yet another article that...

    What a shame that Cathay does not make fresh milk tea. That's almost as bad as instant coffee. It's only black tea and milk. In addition, the sugar issue with milk tea on the plane. It is kind of like coffee in a way. When you order milk tea on the ground you can customize the amount of sugar but clearly can't do this when it comes from a package. Further yet another article that has content that does not matter to my points and miles strategy. This, while interesting, is not a big consideration when choosing an airline.

    1. Santos Guest

      What browser extension are you using that forces you to read articles and blog posts that don't interest you? You should probably disable it.

  10. Emily Guest

    Darjeeling first flush (served black or with milk) and the mango concoction on Air India are fantastic.

  11. Robert Guest

    I'm alcohol free all the time so it's nice to something more than just the usual trip report data about what to drink. Thanks!

  12. St James Guest

    JAL used to serve this Royal Blue Tea thing like tea out of a wine bottle. It was particularly expensive for bottled tea too.

  13. JB Guest

    For anyone who has tried it, is the Hong Kong Milk Tea the same thing as chai served in the Indian Subcontinent, or more like the British Royal Milk Tea served in Europe (with the same Tea leaves, but I think there is a different style of making it).

    1. John Guest

      I would say HK Milk Tea tastes like Thai Milk Tea but less sweet.

  14. Bird Guest

    Qatar offer all their coffee drinks hot or iced

    1. Bird Guest

      And also delicious breakfast smoothies

  15. Pierre Gold

    Have you ever tried the "So Jenny" fake (non-alcoholic) Champagne on Qatar Airways (it's on all their flights)? It' actually not so bad and, I imagine, better than the frequent prank aboard now long deceased Air Afrique First Class where they used to (I am not making this up) to keep the champagne in its ice bucket in the toilet during boarding the DC-10. The toilet was free to use by F passengers at the...

    Have you ever tried the "So Jenny" fake (non-alcoholic) Champagne on Qatar Airways (it's on all their flights)? It' actually not so bad and, I imagine, better than the frequent prank aboard now long deceased Air Afrique First Class where they used to (I am not making this up) to keep the champagne in its ice bucket in the toilet during boarding the DC-10. The toilet was free to use by F passengers at the same time. I shall not elaborate but I NEVER drank the Air Afrique Champagne.

    For religious reasons, I would assume that Etihad and Emirates have it (or a close relative) available. maybe other airlines from Muslim countries.

    1. Pierre Gold

      I forgot to mention that the bottle was always open and in its bucket. I never knew why...

  16. Santos Guest

    SKY TIME on JAL is delicious

  17. Mike Guest

    Only Americans - no offense, I am American too - like cold brew. It’s disgusting.

  18. Joey Diamond

    Qatar Airways serves So Jennie non-alcoholic rosé which is pretty good!

  19. Rob Guest

    Saudia serves a delicious date smoothie to its business class pax.

  20. Artusi Guest

    Virgin Atlantic serves a "Nojito" which is a non alcoholic riff on a Mojito. Delicious. Comes muddled with fresh mint leaves and lime slices which makes a big difference.

  21. Mike1977 Guest

    Butterfly Pea Iced Tea on Thai Airways.

    I’ve only flown on United Polaris once, but they said they had a rotating monthly special coffee. The month I flew it was a fantastic cold brew.

    Anyone have insight on United monthly coffee situation?

  22. LEo Diamond

    What is the difference between iced and hot caffeine products in terms of preparation steps? I rarely see how FA prepare caffeine drinks, but at least in the dozen of McDonald I have been to, to prepare an iced latte, is to get a cup of ice, and press a button on the machine that dispenses coffee (and milk of course). If an airline can invest in hot caffeine products, couldn't they just offer cold...

    What is the difference between iced and hot caffeine products in terms of preparation steps? I rarely see how FA prepare caffeine drinks, but at least in the dozen of McDonald I have been to, to prepare an iced latte, is to get a cup of ice, and press a button on the machine that dispenses coffee (and milk of course). If an airline can invest in hot caffeine products, couldn't they just offer cold products as well? As they don't even need more items, they are just pouring ice into hot coffee.

  23. Lukas Guest

    Freshly squeezed OJ on Turkish from Istanbul :)

  24. Matrix.RX1 Guest

    LX (Swiss) experimented with Wild Sommelier juices from Retter in Austria some years ago. Astonishing product, but retails over 50 EUR/bottle depemding on the type of fruit used.

  25. Aaron Guest

    Ha I opened this specifically looking for the blueberry juice. Pretty sure I've drank their entire stock on some flights (only mildly joking).

  26. Jumex Guest

    “not being overly sweet” lol…
    As long as the non-alcoholic drinks are produced outside of the US, there is a higher chance it will taste good!

  27. GoAmtrak Gold

    I’m surprised no mention of NH Aromatic Kabosu.

  28. Luke Guest

    Date milkshakes on Saudia, not much choice otherwise with them being a dry airline

  29. Amit Guest

    I think you missed a few - Emirates has a really good selection of mocktails and their vitality boost juices (vegan sugar free) on flights ex DXB are excellent, as is their limited affogato which they serve only some flights.

    Singapore airlines gourmet coffees (love the Jamaican blue mountain in their First class) is great, as is their extensive list of mocktails.

    Jetblue's entire coffee offering on their mint service is pretty spectacular and...

    I think you missed a few - Emirates has a really good selection of mocktails and their vitality boost juices (vegan sugar free) on flights ex DXB are excellent, as is their limited affogato which they serve only some flights.

    Singapore airlines gourmet coffees (love the Jamaican blue mountain in their First class) is great, as is their extensive list of mocktails.

    Jetblue's entire coffee offering on their mint service is pretty spectacular and you've covered in multiple posts so was surprised to see that missing here.

  30. Kelly R Guest

    My personal favorite non-alcoholic beverage is the homemade raspberry PDB on Turkish. It's so refreshing, I almost always ask for another one.

  31. Frederik Guest

    Personal AC air vents update on the new post Covid fleets, pretty please.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Luke Guest

Date milkshakes on Saudia, not much choice otherwise with them being a dry airline

2
Robert Guest

I'm alcohol free all the time so it's nice to something more than just the usual trip report data about what to drink. Thanks!

1
Lukas Guest

Freshly squeezed OJ on Turkish from Istanbul :)

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT