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Lack of Limes Limits In-Flight Drinks: How to Cope

April 8, 2014 at 5:39 PM | by | ()

Say 'ta ta for now' to a gin and tonic with a twist of lime, or specialty cocktails like United's Sunrise Sunset (pictured above). A lime shortage is hitting North American airlines right where it hurts: in the beverage carts.

The rarity of limes is due to several issues, such as Mexican cartel control plus nature and biological factors, and US consumers may note that purchasing a single lime at the supermarket now costs three times what it did last season. Just think how businesses that buy limes in bulk are coping. Will travelers get their rum-and-cokes with a squirt of lime this month? Well, it depends.

The AP's Scott Mayerowitz reports:

'We temporarily pulled limes about two weeks ago, due to skyrocketing lime prices,' says Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Halley Knigge. She says the airline normally goes through about 900 limes a day.

United Airlines has had to make do with lemons on some flights, saying the California drought has limited its lime supply.

'We still serve limes, though they’re more difficult to source. So, on some flights we’re substituting with lemons,' spokesman Rahsaan Johnson says.

What to do when the flight attendant nixes your chosen citrus?

· Order something else

Duh, right? Instead of ginger ale with a slice of lime, perhaps go for seltzer with a lemon. A devotee of the pre-flight G & T? Instead see if they'll mix you a "Bees Knees" (gin, lemon juice, honey). Honey isn't all that hard to come by, actually, since it's also a popular sweetener for tea.


Back in 2012, Virgin America buddied up with Buzzfeed to list 9 in-flight cocktail "hacks," all of which can be mixed with the mini bottles the airline stocks onboard. Thankfully only one uses real lime, and then only as a garnish. Perhaps print or save the page to Instapaper and take it as a little challenge to reproduce the recipes.

· Pre-game at the airport or lounge bar.

While bars on land will be just as hurt by the lime shortage as those in the air, an airport bar's booze menu will at least have far more variety. Specialty chains like Vino Volo and Starbucks Evenings are adding new airport addresses monthly. Of course do not neglect the temptations of the airline lounge, should you have access. Exclusive spots like Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses have special concoctions (VA favors lemons, anyway).

· If all else fails, try the wine.

Most airlines these days place special focus on their wine menus, employing authorities (like Delta's consultant and Master Sommelier, Andrea Robinson) or buying up entire vintages (like British Airways' The Gentleman Cabernet Sauvignon 2010). As noted above, Alaska Airlines is feeling the lime squeeze, but luckily they've just introduced Washington State wines onboard. For a fizz, check out the fine champagne featured on these 13 airlines.

[Photo: Jaunted]

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