American and Southwest pull in-flight booze, citing passenger churlishness

·2 min read
Korn drinking Jack Daniels on a private flight
Korn drinking Jack Daniels on a private flight

A few weeks ago, we reported on United Airlines’ new in-flight drink menu, which includes White Claw spiked seltzer so you can fly the really friendly skies. But now, airlines appear to be experiencing a bit of boozy turbulence, leading some major carriers to discontinue alcohol service until further notice. Food & Wine reports that, as a result of “passengers behaving badly,” both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have decided not to resume alcoholic beverage service during flights.

Some background: just last weekend, a Southwest flight attendant lost two teeth after a passenger punched her in the face, The New York Times reports. The Times also reports that, since January 1, the Federal Aviation Administration has received about 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.

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“Flight attendants are on the front lines every day not only ensuring our customers’ safety, but are also calming fears, answering questions, and enforcing policies like federally-required face masks,” Brady Byrnes, American Airlines managing director of flight service, wrote in a memo to the airline’s flight attendants, according to CNN. “Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft [...] We also recognize that alcohol can contribute to atypical behavior from customers onboard and we owe it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers.”

With that in mind, Southwest had reversed its decision to resume serving beer and wine on flights to and from Hawaii starting June 24. The airline also planned to resume selling beer, wine, vodka, and whisky on all flights over 251 miles on July 14; those plans have been scrapped for the time being. American has already started serving boozy beverages in its domestic premium cabins, and while first class and business class passengers can still get in-flight alcohol, the main cabin menu will stay dry for now. American says that it will consider resuming alcohol service on Monday, September 13, when the federal face mask mandate is set to expire. For now, please avoid in-flight assholery. I mean, really.