Thirsty travelers can now get refreshed at new water refilling stations at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, part of an effort to cut down the use of disposable water bottles.
The amenity has popped up at other major airports, such as San Francisco International and Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, and could reduce at least one small cost of traveling by eliminating a need to buy bottled water at the airport.
That could cut into the sales of those who profit by peddling bottled water, including airport concessionaires and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola with its Dasani and smartwater brands. Coca-Cola’s beverages are sold at airport vending machines and concessions.
Hartsfield-Jackson said the refilling stations on Concourses A and T, retrofitted on water fountains by the vendor, dispense filtered water and are part of a pilot program to encourage passengers to reuse bottles and reduce waste at the airport.
Plans are to monitor use of the refilling stations to decide whether to install them at other locations in the world’s busiest airport.
Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan Stribling said the company does not oppose “hydration stations” or refillable bottles “as long as people have a choice.” Coca-Cola’s position comes in light of movements in other jurisdictions to ban or restrict bottled water.
Airport refilling stations came about partly as a consequence of security restrictions on liquids in place since 2006, which keep passengers from taking bottles of water through security checkpoints.
Some airports have also installed liquid disposal stations where passengers can empty water bottles before going through security.
At Oregon’s Portland International Airport, concessions senior manager Scott Kilgo said bottled water is such a huge source of sales that the airport is putting refill stations inside airport shops, along with reusable bottles for sale, to try to avoid losing revenue.
“Our surveys show it’s definitely a growing trend - the use of refillable bottles,” Kilgo said. “As other airports and other public facilities respond to the traveler and the public’s needs, we’ll figure this out.”