From blocking out middle seats to requiring masks on flights, airlines have had to make a lot of changes throughout the pandemic. But as air travel picked back up significantly this summer, companies are now facing a new challenge: unruly passengers. Flight crews have resorted to duct taping travelers to their seats and pilots have even had to land flights early in order to curb the worst disruptions. Now, American Airlines is taking a preemptive step to help prevent mid-flight meltdowns. Read on to find out what the airline is banning until 2022.
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American Airlines is banning the sale of alcohol on flights until 2022.
You’ll have to forgo drinking on any flights this year if you use one of the nation’s largest airlines. American Airlines just announced that it is extending its ban on in-flight alcohol sales and will not serve alcohol in the main cabin of its flights until at least Jan. 18. (First and business class passengers can still imbibe.) The airline first suspended alcohol service in March 2020 to minimize the spread of COVID, but was set to reinstate it for economy passengers on June 1 of this year. However, after several incidents of drunk passengers acting out over the summer, the airline decided to hold off on bringing alcohol sales back until Sept. 13—and now, service is being delayed until 2022.
“We are doing all we can to help create a safe environment for our crew and customers onboard our aircraft,” American Airlines’ senior manager of flight service policies Stacy Frantz said in a recent note to staff, as obtained by Simple Flying
The airline is also attempting curb alcohol sales at certain airports.
American Airlines also says it is “gaining ground” in working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to stop the sale of to-go alcohol drinks in certain airports, according to Frantz. She specifically called out Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Charlotte Douglas International’s Airport in her memo. FAA regulations prohibit passengers from consuming alcohol on flights that is not provided by the airline, but FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said to-go beverages at airports may confuse travelers when some airlines have banned in-flight sales.
“We have received reports that some airport concessionaires have offered alcohol ‘to-go,’ and passengers believe they can carry that alcohol onto their flights or they become inebriated during the boarding process,” Dickson wrote in an Aug. 3 letter to airport leaders. “The FAA requests that airports work with their concessionaires to help avoid this.”
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The mask mandate for planes has also been extended to next year.
Jan. 18 is also the date when the U.S. mask mandate on public transportation is now set to expire. On Aug. 17, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it would be extending mask requirements on U.S. federal transportation until early next year. This mandate has been in place since January 2021, and it requires face coverings to be worn by all travelers on airplanes and in airports. According to Simple Flying, American Airlines has said it will continue to ban alcohol sales in the main cabin until TSA’s mask mandate is officially lifted.
Southwest Airlines has banned the sale of alcohol on flights as well.
Southwest Airlines has been the only other major U.S. airline to ban alcohol sales on flights. Southwest had originally planned to lift its ban in June of this year, but in May, it announced it would not resume serving alcohol after a recent assault on one of its flight attendants. At that time, a Southwest spokesperson told CNBC that there was “no timetable” for when alcohol sales would resume, and the company has not made any subsequent updates on its ban after the TSA extended mask requirements.
“We are serving a limited selection of non-alcoholic beverages and snacks on flights over 250 miles, when available. As always, you’re welcome to bring your own non-alcoholic beverages onboard,” Southwest’s website currently states.
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