Lack of water fountains in UK airports

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Kathy 8 Aug 2017
at 19:22

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  • Tom Otley

    Interesting campaign over at Money Saving Expert

    No water fountains in more than HALF of UK airports

    As they point out,

    “For more than a decade, passengers have not been allowed to take liquids of more than 100ml through security at airports – meaning they’re often forced to purchase expensive bottled water once airside.”

    It’s not great for the environment having so many passengers dump their plastic bottles of water just before security, and then buying another one airside only to dump it wherever they are flying to.

    Of course you can take an empty plastic bottle through security, but not a half full one (I believe).

    Assuming you have an empty bottle, you then have to find somewhere to fill it up, hence the campaign.

    The airports which do not have water fountains say that restaurants will fill bottles on requests, but I’m not sure they are legally obliged to – I think they only have to offer water to customers, not people walking past.

    Interestingly some think that “as soon as taking liquids through security was banned, some airports removed most or all of their water fountains and the retailers started charging rip-off prices”.


    Interestingly some think that “as soon as taking liquids through security was banned, some airports removed most or all of their water fountains and the retailers started charging rip-off prices”.


    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Tom. More money for the shops and the airport operator. Water fountains are just a cost for them!


    Unbelievable that there are no water fountains at some UK airports. I was at Hkg recently and the two fountains on the wing of my departure were broken so asked the nearby airport office where to get drinking water and was directed to the CX wing where there was not only a fountain but also a bottle filling machine used by most Asians who sensibly bring empty bottles through security.
    In fact most major Asian airports have such machines, one reason why they keep getting best airport awards?


    It is indicative of most things in day to day UK life, the same with public toilets. No requirement by law then why spend the money on installing or maintaining. We do not complain, In Asia, and even the US customers would be in uproar at lack of services.

    I have seen security before at CDG refuse to let someone take an empty bottle airside, telling the passenger that the container cannot be any bigger than 100ml


    There are many airports with a lack of water fountains, however there are also alternatives in some airports, such as Stansted where you can obtain a 500 ml bottle of water for a £1 donation.

    In Gatwick, Yo Sushi offers a refill of your glass as part of their CSR policy to promote zero waste society. Shame other restaurants haven’t followed suit.

    The cost of a bottle of water differs substantially within the department lounge.

    Here are some helpful dos and don’ts
    Do grab a bottle before boarding and aim for a cup of water an hour. Although the cabin atmosphere won’t cause serious dehydration, most business travellers are travelling in haste, without their usual intake of fluids. So make sure you take some with you and sip en route.

    Don’t leave it to the last minute and grab one from the vending machine, as vending machine bottles will cost circa £2, which is more expensive than other outlets.

    Do grab a bottle at one of the main retailers. Boots is by far one of the less expensive, WHSmith may have a newspaper deal where you receive a free bottle of water. World Duty Free also offers water at less than most restaurants circa £1.30.

    Don’t buy water at trendy restaurants – it goes without saying they are the more expensive than the quick grab cafes, with some charging up to £3.00 for 500 ml bottle or £2.40 for a 330 ml glass.

    Do buy water at quick cafes such as EAT, where the cost is only £1.00 per 500 ml bottle or Pret A Manger. Although, it does differ with Starbucks offering 500 ml bottle for £1.65.

    As a travel well-being consultant, I would fully support any campaign to encourage airports to offer more functional water fountains, where you can refill your bottle.


    Unlike the US where every airport has (usually non-working) fountains. Can’t say if I ever noticed in the likes of Singapore or Hong Kong. A very First World problem – I buy some if there is no option..


    I’m stunned to see CDG said no EMPTY bottles and nothing bigger than 100ml size even empty.

    I find in HEATHROW you have to hunt the fountain, but mostly find them by the ladies toilets. For the very reasons of waste and taking fruit through as an infuser (hate the taste of water, bottled or otherwise) – I carried without problem a 780ml see through bottle, without problems. Same for budget Luton, I found the fountain (do only one trip per year there because none of the major airlines flies direct to where I needed to go). Mostly the major airports in Asia-Pacific – I’ve never had a problem with either my empty bottle or filling up.

    That said, I have seen someone stopped and had to dump a NON-see through empty bottle in security. See-through empty bottle even with fruit inside, is clearly a no-brainer.

    And before folk get angsy on the fruit – yes fruit bits (lemon) are ditched before I disembark at the other end.

    And yes again, any bottled drinks etc are really overpriced in the airport. When water per ml is more expensive than duty free alcohol, that’s really a first world problem indeed. That’s why I bought a bottle to keep hydrated and wallet a little fuller.


    nevereconomy there are water fountains at every gate at Changi in all 3 functioning terminals and I am sure the 4th which is about to open!

    Remember here the security is at every gate, so once through we just fill up our bottles from the fountains, this is very normal here in Asia due to the heat and humidity….


    I don’t know if this is new but I noticed yesterday at LGW N that after going through security you turn right, then just before you turn left to go into the main departures concourse, on your left, there is a drinking water fountain.

    Tom Otley

    I spoke with London City today and they said that all of their food and beverage outlets have complimentary water jugs and cups.

    I don;t know if that’s true, but all the ones I checked (3) did.


    Most airports mandate that their restaurants and bars are required to offer complimentary water if asked.


    Bars and licensed restaurants in England and Wales are legally required to provide (portable) water to customers free of charge. So cafes and burger bars don’t have to. All workplaces do. So if you are travelling on business for your company, then it is your employer’s responsibility to ensure you have adequate hydration during your trip. They have to provide water at the office and they have a duty of care to provide the same when you are travelling. This means that you should be able to claim your bottles of water in your expenses, regardless of what your company travel policy states. You could put it down as subsistence under your expense claims.

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