Wednesday 3 July 2019

Drinking water at Stansted Airport

The lack of a water fountain in the main departure lounge at London Stansted Airport continues to bug me. I went through there recently, with Honeyguide’s Picos de Europa group, and again there was no public water fountain to re-fill water bottles after security.

Stansted Airport advises that catering outlets will fill water bottles, which from my experience is true. The kind people at Pret a Manger did this for me and other Honeyguiders, with such speed and charm that it suggests the request is likely and expected. But how many others would think to ask? That service is not advertised.

Why does it matter? It could be argued that access to drinking water is a basic human need. But for me it’s all about reducing single use plastic. It’s easy to buy bottled water from any number of retail outlets. That won’t stop, but access to a fountain or tap would reduce the volume of plastic water bottles sold and used once.

You’d have to deaf and blind not to realise that single use plastic is an environmental concern. Refillable water bottles is an obvious ‘quick win’. BBC programmes such as Blue Planet and War on Plastic have highlighted the volume of plastic in our lives (and getting into our seas). Glastonbury went free of plastic bottles this year – and Sir David Attenborough went on stage to applaud that good work.
Water fountain after security at London Gatwick's North Terminal, March 2019.

The shame – from Stansted’s perspective – is that there used to be a perfectly good fountain in the entrance to the loos. That was taken away in the refurbishment two or three years ago.

I’ve been in correspondence with the Stansted Customer Relations team off and on since then. In January 2018, I was informed that:

“Having liaised with the terminal management team, I can confirm that we are currently surveying locations for a water fountain in our departures lounge. As you will appreciate there is currently extensive building work being undertaken and any new water fountain will be phased in line with these works as we would not want to install something now and then move it again at some point in the near future.”

Well, it hasn’t happened. My most recent correspondent says:

“At present, water fountains are in place at various locations within the airport including land side areas (before security), boarding gate satellites, the immigration hall and the baggage collection hall.”

But there is no fountain in the main departure lounge. I haven’t named names above: it’s unfair to do that for PR staff who have to put a positive spin on senior management’s lack of action.

The picture here shows one of two water fountains located immediately after security at London Gatwick’s North Terminal. We all know that you cannot take liquids through security, so this is the logical and sensible place to put them. There are water fountains with signs elsewhere in departures at Gatwick.

So, Stansted, please do what London Gatwick does. It’s not too much to ask, surely?
Chris Durdin, July 2019

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