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As infuriating as flight delays can be, there are plenty of good reasons for why a plane may not be ready for takeoff at its scheduled time, like extreme weather, not-so-extreme-but-still-inclement weather and late-arriving aircraft. One excuse that’s not likely to fly with passengers? A broken coffee maker. Yet that’s the official reason some passengers have been getting for why their plane isn’t ready to hit the open skies.

While it may seem like a ridiculous reason to warrant a late arrival to your destination — especially when one considers that only a handful of airlines seem to be able to serve up a decent cup of Joe anyway — the issue goes far beyond an airline wanting to ensure that its passengers are appropriately caffeinated. A non-operational coffee pot could actually signal a larger problem with the plane’s circuitry, requiring the ground crew to inspect the aircraft, which takes time and is likely going to put your flight behind schedule.

“You can’t just put Mr. Coffee in an airline,” Jeff Lowe, president of Aviation Fabricators, a Missouri-based airplane repair facility, told The New York Times. “You have to do all kinds of engineering and analysis and provide test results to the FAA to get approval.”

Which isn’t to say that a broken coffee pot isn’t sometimes just that — a broken coffee pot. American Airlines has had an “inordinate amount of coffee maker problems” as of late, according to the airline’s COO Robert Isom, who also said, “If we can’t find a fix, we ought to just replace all the coffee makers.” Which, of course, is easier said than done, as they generally cost anywhere between $7,000 and $20,000 a pop. Planes do have backup machines onboard if needed, but even using one of those requires some mechanical assistance to disable the power and cut off the water supply to the non-working appliance (read: another coffee maker-related flight delay).

American Airlines, of course, isn’t alone. Both Delta and United confirmed that coffee makers can lead to delays; to combat this, United has instituted more frequent checks of the equipment to ensure a timely takeoff. “We do have some delays due to coffee maker problems from time to time, but it’s not a prevalent cause,” United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said.

And you thought the terrible taste was the worst thing about your inflight java.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

H/T: The New York Times

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