Alcohol Returns To Delta Air Lines Flights

Filed Under: Delta

Virtually all airlines have adjusted inflight food & beverage offerings due to the current pandemic, with a special focus on minimizing contact between passengers and flight attendants. Well, if you’re a Delta flyer and enjoy adult beverages, there’s a positive update.

Delta brings back inflight beer & wine

As of July 2, 2020, Delta will once again offer alcoholic beverages in first class and Comfort+ on domestic flights of more than 500 miles. Delta never suspended alcohol service on long haul international flights, so nothing is changing there.

Delta isn’t bringing back the full selection of alcohol — beer and wine will be offered, while liquor won’t. Delta’s alcohol selection will include:

  • Single-serve red wine and white wine
  • Heineken, Miller Lite, SweetWater 420, and SweetWater IPA

Delta will once again offer beer & wine

Flight attendants will pass the cans and single-serve bottles (which are complimentary in both first class and Comfort+) using serving trays to minimize touch points. The reason individual servings of wine and beer are making a comeback before other alcohol is because they have fewer touch points.

This will be the first time in months that Delta is offering alcohol on domestic flights, as this was eliminated in March.

As Delta’s SVP of Inflight Service, Allison Ausband, describes this move:

“In keeping with the Delta CareStandard, our goal is to serve all of our food and beverage offerings in the safest way possible – both for our customers and employees. We take pride in always listening to our customers, and we know beer and wine are the adult beverages our customers want most. These selections are the first step towards a normalized beverage offering while we continue to keep customer and crew safety at the center of everything we do.”

Delta A321 first class

Why did Delta get rid of alcohol to begin with?

We’ve seen quite a few airlines eliminate alcohol onboard during the pandemic. Different airlines have provided different explanations for this. Some consumers have argued that this is simply cost cutting.

So how did airlines justify this?

  • Many airlines have suspended buy on board food & beverage service, since it’s not great for minimizing contact between passengers and crews; this is a possible explanation for airlines that charge for alcohol
  • Airlines have been trying to simplify service, so while it’s one thing to give someone a can of beer, it’s another thing to mix a drink
  • Passengers on most airlines are required to wear masks; typically people take more time to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, which means they’re likely to have their mask off for longer
  • I’ve seen some suggest that this is to avoid people getting tipsy, since we should be more alert when flying during the pandemic (in terms of keeping our masks on, avoiding contact with other passengers, etc.)

Personally I give Delta the benefit of the doubt for not serving alcohol for the past several months. In theory if a flight attendant could serve a can of Coke they could also serve a beer, but I also recognize that all of this has been quite an adjustment for airlines.

As a point of comparison, American Airlines has been serving alcohol in first class throughout the pandemic.

American Airlines never suspended alcohol service in first class

Bottom line

Delta will once again be serving beer and wine in first class and Comfort+ on flights of over 500 miles. Expect this to be offered in single serving containers.

There still won’t be any liquor in any cabin, and beer and wine won’t be available for purchase in economy, since the goal is to still minimize contact between crews and passengers.

What do you make of inflight alcohol service during the pandemic? Is there any logic for airlines eliminating it, or is it pure cost cutting?

Comments
  1. Ben/D.C. Nomad – fair enough – I’d expect the booze to be Bacardi (or some other rum), or hell, Jack Daniels, though.

  2. I’m pretty sure Dr. Fauci has never said that minis have too many touch points and that’s a big COVID hotspot…

  3. Beer but no hard seltzer?! They had just started serving Bon & Viv’s before everything collapsed. C’mon, Delta, it’s summer and we need some breezy vibes as we whistle past the graveyard.

  4. Of course, Delta won’t say what kind of wine. I bet it will be Sutter’s Home. Delta was already serving individual bottles of Spanish cava sparkling wine or Italian prosecco sparkling wine. Both were pretty cheap brands. So the fact that sparkling wine isn’t coming back tells me the new wine is going to be brutal. You’re better off filling your coffee thermos with wine from the Sky Club.

  5. @Lucky

    I love it…everything is better with a few shots of vodka. Keeps the bulkhead babies from making too much of a fuss.

  6. Serious question: Do we actually have any real evidence that anyone’s gotten infected from touching an object? CDC said the chances of getting infected that way are rare. I’d argue it’s probably non-existent. Eventually, the whole “abundance of caution” business starts to wear thin, and feels more like marketing than genuine safety measures. And I’m 100% on board with mask wearing. But for Pete’s sake, I don’t believe “minimizing touch points” is a valid concern with this virus. Call me crazy.

  7. The issue with alcohol is people who are intoxicated are much less likely to follow rules of any kind. Their inhibitions are lowered, and will more likely do things that don’t minimize contact.

  8. Will the wine be served in a sealed container that the customer drinks from? Like a plastic glass with a peel off foil lid? If not, I am not sure how a bottle if wine that needs to be poured into a glass is any different than a cocktail that needs to be poured into a class. The fact that no ice is involved?

  9. Pure cost cutting, if you can hand me a baggie with water and snacks in it you can hand me a Bacardi and Coke. Diamond Medallion

  10. @lucky will this be rolled out to all domestic flights on July 2nd? I’m flying ATL to LAX in First on July 3rd so is it safe to assume that the flight will have beer / wine or should I have an extra one or two in the sky club 😉

  11. @David

    If they drink heavy enough, the alcohol in their body should kill the virus on everything they come in contact.
    Hahahahaha!!!!!!

    Now here is the not so funny part. In your statement, if you replace the word ‘alcohol’ with ‘BLM’ you still make a valid statement.

  12. The reason I ask is bc the points guy posted a similar article that the roll out would take a month – don’t know where they got that from the press release though. Thanks and love the blog but rarely comment 🙂

  13. Good for Delta! Given rubbing alcohol is known to kill corona virus, it is a wonder why the CDC haven’t recommended at risk groups consume a large amount of alcohol on a daily basis.

  14. @Warren: You should know by now not to trust TPG. They basically reprint Delta’s press releases. The reporting in that article was, as is typical, horrible. For example, they claimed you can’t bring your own alcohol aboard — that’s just false.

  15. @R B

    Tito’s is 40% alcohol (80 proof). The recommendation is that hand sanitizer needs a minimum of 60% alcohol. So Tito’s isn’t even good for making hand sanitizer.

  16. I think serving alcohol shouldn’t be a problem at the first place. In a lot of countries, people working in the restaurant need to wear gloves, hairnet and mouth guard. So all they need is wear gloves when making cocktails as they already need to wear masks.
    Also, most delta planes have IFE. Not sure why they don’t implement ordering from IFE. Don’t their new A339 and A222 have latest an greatest IFE that they can push wirelessly?

  17. Ben – You should clarify in your article when you say: “Personally I give Delta the benefit of the doubt for not serving alcohol for the past several months. In theory if a flight attendant could serve a can of Coke they could also serve a beer, but I also recognize that all of this has been quite an adjustment for airlines.”

    Delta does not offer soft drinks on domestic flights and will not after this change. They provide bottled water only in all classes of service.

  18. I had to fly this past week. Family reason. Although, I would have preferred not too. Sky club filled up a water bottle with vodka by sweet lady. And I’m in first and huge loyalty to delta. Was kind enough to give ice and mixer on flight. I asked if I could consume. Happily said yes. Against protocol. But very kind FA. AND AGAIN, I did ask first.

  19. I had to fly this past week. Family reason. Although, I would have preferred not too. Sky club filled up a water bottle with vodka by sweet lady. And I’m in first and huge loyalty to delta. Was kind enough to give ice and mixer on flight. I asked if I could consume. Happily said yes. Against protocol. But very kind FA. AND AGAIN, I did ask first.

  20. @FNT Delta Diamond
    You can bring your own alcohol onboard as long as it’s 3-1-1 complaint or duty free and you don’t drink it onboard. NO PERSONAL ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION ONBOARD. EVER.

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