JetBlue Becomes First Major U.S. Airline to Offer Non-Alcoholic Beer

The airline has teamed with Athletic Brewing Company to serve booze-free beer on domestic flights.

<p>Courtesy of Athletic Brewing</p>

Courtesy of Athletic Brewing

Anyone flying JetBlue this summer will have another beer choice when the beverage cart stops beside their row. The Long Island City-based airline has just announced that, starting this month, it will be offering Athletic Brewing Company’s non-alcoholic Upside Dawn Golden Ale on its flights. With this addition to its drinks menu, JetBlue will become the first major U.S. air carrier to serve a non-alcoholic beer.

“We’re excited to take flight with JetBlue and allow flyers to relax at 35,000 feet with a great-tasting alternative to full-strength brews,” Bill Shufelt, Athletic Brewing’s co-founder and CEO said in a statement. “This is a huge milestone for Athletic and a key partnership for us in the travel industry.” Shufelt was named a Food & Wine Drinks Innovators of the Year in 2022.

Athletic Brewing uses a proprietary process to create its non-alcoholic brews, and each of its beers are less than 0.5% ABV. Each can of Upside Dawn contains 45 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates. "Previously most people had this vision of non-alcoholic beer which was for very specific customer cohorts and was very low-velocity, so in a plane setting where there's really limited space, they wouldn't stock it," Shufelt told CT Insider earlier this week.

"Considering how Athletic is taking non-alcoholic beer to new occasions, new populations and everything, it really makes sense — and it's one of the higher velocity beers out there."

Flyers (and, let’s be honest, a lot of members of the flight crew) will likely welcome a non-alcoholic beer choice. “In our continued effort to provide customers with an onboard experience customized to their needs and preferences, JetBlue is proud to be the first major U.S. airline to serve non-alcoholic beer,” Mariya Stoyanova, JetBlue’s director of product development, said. “We’re thrilled to partner with industry leader Athletic Brewing to offer our customers the refreshing, balanced taste of a classic craft Golden without the alcohol.”

Related:The Best Non-Alcoholic Beer: Our Favorite Brews to Drink Right Now

According to a 2019 survey from marketing agency Fractl, 90% of air travelers reported that they had consumed alcoholic beverages on the plane. In addition, millennials were 10% more likely than older travelers to become intoxicated in the air.

The Dutch airline KLM wrote a blog post detailing how alcohol affects your body when you’re traveling at 30,000 feet, explaining that the lower barometric pressure in an airplane cabin can contribute to an increased feeling of intoxication in-flight.

“In other words, because of the lower level of oxygen in your blood, you may seem more drunk in the air than you would on the ground after consuming the same amount of alcohol,” the blog post reads. “But, in fact, your [blood alcohol concentration] will show the same percentage as would be the case if you drank the same amount of alcohol on the ground under similar circumstances.”

In addition, the drier air in an airplane cabin can cause flyers to feel dehydrated when consuming in-flight booze; to counter this, KLM recommends drinking a glass of water to accompany every alcoholic beverage.

Given some of the incidents caused by overserved travelers, it’s surprising that it took a major U.S. airline this long to invite a non-alcoholic brew onboard, and it will be equally surprising if others don’t follow JetBlue’s lead, and fast.

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