Annoying Flight Delay? Your Coffee Habit Might Be the Reason Why Your Plane Can't Take Off

How badly do you want that delicious (cough) airline coffee?

There are a few universal things that frankly, nobody likes: running out of toilet paper, accidentally spilling a bottle of wine and not having another one to replace it with (the horror!), leaving your iPhone or keys at home and realizing it mid-commute… And probably the most infuriating one?

A flight delay.

Regardless if you’re traveling for work or for fun, there’s often an audible sigh of frustration (and sudden flood of angry Tweets) when an airline announces your flight is delayed. Even if it’s five minutes… it’s really, really annoying. So what to do? Naturally, if you have time to kill, you either go straight for the nearest airport bar or pick up a cup of joe to make waiting in the airport at least somewhat tolerable.

But therein (possibly) lies the reason your flight was pushed back to begin with. Apparently, a broken coffee maker within the aircraft is a leading cause of why planes don’t leave at the time printed on your boarding pass. No but really: A recent podcast for employees at American Airlines said an “inordinate amount of coffee maker problems” are happening lately, and that take-off times are off from the start of the year. (No specifics were given as to how many of the delays are caused by the broken coffee machines in the New York Times article on the subject.) The podcast explained that taking off sans caffeine is a no-no, but fixing the machines is tough.

The reason this issue could take so much time to fix? The machines are electrical, and if they’re not working, the crew needs to double-check (and triple-check) whether the glitch extends to the rest of the plane. Or the problem could be grosser: The tank that holds the water for your java has bacteria in it and has to be cleaned out. (Ick.)

While it’s not only difficult coffee makers that are causing issues—apparently clumsy spills on seats are a headache these days, too—replacing those machines is not cheap, since they range from $7,000 to 20,000 a piece. You might roll your eyes and write a passive-aggressive Facebook status update when your flight is delayed again, but consider the alternative: You could be on a faulty plane… or that round-trip ticket deal could be pricier if they replaced the brewers.

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