Southwest says it may start selling booze on flights again this spring. It'd come after a record year in unruly passenger behavior.

·2 min read
Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines could start selling alcohol onboard again.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File
  • Southwest paused has paused its inflight alcohol service several times since the start of the pandemic.

  • But now Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says the carrier is looking to resume service in spring.

  • The news comes on the back of FAA data showing it received 5,981 unruly passenger reports in 2021.

Southwest Airlines says it may start serving booze onboard again this spring.

Like other carriers, Southwest first paused inflight alcohol sales in 2020 to minimize exposure between staff and passengers during the pandemic. The service was postponed first due to a rise in unruly passengers and then because of a federal mask mandate that runs through March 18.

This week, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says the carrier is looking to resume alcohol service "late in the first quarter, maybe early in the second quarter," according to a transcript of the airline's Q4 earnings call.

The carrier is bolstering its safe distancing measures before resuming the service, Kelly indicated in the call on Thursday.

His comments come after data this month from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed it received 5,981 unruly passenger reports for the whole of 2021. According to the FAA, more than two-thirds of the incidents in 2021 were due to disputes over face masks.

Southwest Airlines' flight attendant union, TWU Local 556, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Flight attendants told Insider's Allan Akhtar in June last year that they hoped that the limits on alcohol service would stay.

"When we have problems that escalate, they would be escalated ten times more if they were fueled by alcohol," an anonymous flight attendant told Insider at the time.

FAA regulations do not allow passengers to consume alcohol onboard flights unless the drinks are served by the airline.

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