Talks with Cox: My drink of choice: air travel edition

Gracie Cox, Opinions Editor

After being stuck in Oregon for upwards of two years, I finally got a chance to escape the gloom this Thanksgiving break for a week in Kauai. My trip was wonderful (thanks for asking), and it felt especially good to be back in the air. My first flight since COVID was about six hours long, and I enjoyed every second of it. Despite the back pain, annoying neighbors pregaming for their upcoming wedding and my constant worry about getting stuck at sea, I had the pleasure of indulging in my favorite aspect of vacation; the in-flight beverages.

Over the years, I’ve tried quite a few different drinks in the air. As early as I can remember flying, I would get a glass of milk to drink alongside my always stale Biscoff cookie. This seems disgusting now considering the horror that milk has exposed itself to be, but 2009 was a simpler time. And, considering just how hard those Biscoffs were, I’m glad I had something to keep myself from breaking a tooth on them.

Strangely enough, I never went through a juice phase. I can appreciate a nice glass of cranberry on an early morning flight or a trip to a local diner, but juice is never something I find myself craving. It’s a little too sweet and just a little too much for my tender taste buds. From my friends, I hear constant praise for apple juice. I can’t help but dismiss it as the drink looks like muddy toddler urine and tastes like flat Martinelli’s, but I guess we all have our preferences. Some are just better than others.

I typically bounce back and forth between two drink options. When the Netflix show or Pixar movie I’ve downloaded is getting a bit too sad and I need a sweet pick-me-up, a Sprite is always the way to go. It gets cold almost immediately, tastes refreshing and never seems to upset my stomach. Sometimes “Up” is a little too painful and it’s a little too embarrassing to sob next to a 60-year-old French businessman who so conveniently got placed next to you. Don’t worry my dear because Sprite is here!

The drink that I’m most loyal to is one that has been passed down in my family from generation to generation, easing the sensitive flying stomachs of my people. Also, it can treat malaria with the help of quinine! If you haven’t guessed, the drink is tonic water. It’s difficult to explain, but the best I can do to describe it is to say that it tastes like TV static with a hint of lemon. It’s my favorite for the second leg of a trip when you’re beginning to get tired, but you know it’s not in your best interest to fall asleep. Tonic water will keep you awake, keep your body safe from infection and make you appear as a sophisticated young lady/man/person. It’s a win-win situation.

If you’re in a more savory mood, Bloody Mary mix is a good option. Snacks on a flight can be underwhelming if you forget to bring your own, so drinking something a little bit more substantial is essential to curb your “hangriness.” It’s a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet and reminds me of my fond memories of drinking V8 at family picnics. Good times.

Ginger ale used to be a favorite of mine until cursed Alaska Airlines changed their brand from Canada Dry to Seagram’s. It’s off-brand, lacking the usual tang that ginger ale is supposed to have and the can is ugly. Do I judge my drinks based on their can’s physical appearance? Why, yes I do. 

When picking a plane beverage, it’s also important to consider the snack that you will be pairing it with. Don’t be stupid and drink orange juice with Cheez-Its. Just because they’re the same color doesn’t mean you need to eat them together. The flavors clash, as does the outfit of the anti-masker sitting next to you. Don’t interact with either.

With most savory snacks served on the plane (including my favorite, the Alaska Airlines snack mix) something citrusy to contrast is the way to go. 

Also, be sure to charm your flight attendant into giving you the whole can of your drink. Flash that beaming smile under your mask, use your manners and then you’ll be sure to secure the full can. Your self-respect will recover, and it’s worth having more anti-boredom drink in the long run.

On your next journey to who knows where (probably Palm Springs knowing LO), please keep my advice in mind. I promise that it will serve you well. A good plane ride sets you up for an amazing trip, so why not make the right decisions and drink what’s best for you?