American Airlines Bringing Back Alcohol In Economy

American Airlines Bringing Back Alcohol In Economy

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In mid-March, American Airlines set April 18 as the date for bringing back alcoholic beverages in domestic economy. The catch was that this was supposed to coincide with the federal transportation mask mandate ending. With the mandate having been extended, there’s at least some good news for American passengers, as the airline is still moving forward with bringing back alcohol.

American resumes buy on board service on April 18, 2022

American Airlines’ economy alcohol ban will finally be ending. The Fort Worth-based airline will resume the sale of alcohol in economy on domestic and short haul international flights as of Monday, April 18, 2022:

  • As of that date, alcohol will once again be available for purchase in economy on flights of over 250 miles
  • As before, beer will cost $8, wine will cost $9, and liquor will cost $9
  • While the federal transportation mask mandate is now in effect through May 3, 2022, American is still moving forward with bringing back alcohol on April 18
  • American will also bring back buy on board food as of that date, on flights of 1,500+ miles; the menu will initially be quite limited, with just chips and nuts, but more food options should be available starting this summer
  • Throughout the pandemic American has continued to serve alcohol in first class, so there are no changes there
American will start selling alcohol in economy again

American is the last airline to bring back alcohol

American is the last major US airline to bring back alcohol in economy. American’s management said early on in the pandemic that the airline would resume the sale of alcohol when the federal mask mandate ends, but of course that has been extended several times. Now the airline is moving forward with bringing back alcohol even though the mandate remains in place.

While I can in theory appreciate where management was coming from, the reality is that other major US airlines have been serving alcohol in economy for many months now. Southwest Airlines was the one other airline that waited to resume the sale of alcohol, but even Southwest brought back the sale of alcohol in February 2022.

A few thoughts about American’s policy:

  • It’s interesting that American thinks that first class passengers can handle alcohol without being unruly, while the airline thinks economy passengers can’t
  • I can’t help but wonder about the economics of this; on the one hand, airlines make money selling alcohol in economy, but on the other hand American offered free alcohol to Main Cabin Extra (extra legroom economy) customers, so I wonder if it ended up being a wash, or a money-losing thing (if American was making money selling alcohol in economy, I can’t imagine it would have been suspended for this long)
  • I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that American had fewer unruly passenger incidents than competitors that were serving alcohol
American is the last major US airline to bring back alcohol

Bottom line

As of April 18, 2022, American Airlines will finally bring back the sale of alcohol in domestic economy, after a more than two year hiatus. This is happening in spite of the fact that the mask mandate is remaining in place beyond that date.

This is long overdue, given that competitors have been selling alcohol for quite a while, without having more issues than American. Buy on board food will also resume, though initially only with chips and nuts of flights on 1,500+ miles. American still has a lot of catching up to do here, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

What do you make of American bringing back the sale of alcohol?

Conversations (26)
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  1. Dave Guest

    I personally prefer my alcohol on the ground after reaching my destination. Far more time and no ill affects from the altitude in flight. Also if more people skipped the drinking at the airport bars then on the plane there might be fewer shall we say incidents. I enjoy a drink but best left to being somewhere more appropriate for it, on the ground where safety isn't as big an issue and plenty of bouncer security to look after you and others.

    1. Paul Guest

      I’m on AA today (4/18). SMF-DFW-AUS
      I order a Bloody Mary, they said no alcohol on any flight under 1,500 miles as of today…

  2. Christi Guest

    Get rid of the damn nuts!! There has to be another snack food to serve. It causes so much trouble just FINALLY get rid of it.

  3. D3kingg Guest

    @Ben

    I was thinking about this today. If there is free wifi and no alcohol or food for purchase in Economy how could Barclays Aviator Silver justify AF $195 ? I did proactively mention this to them back in January and was given a $50 goodwill credit.

  4. Joseph Story Guest

    We only trust the rich with alcohol. You plebians in economy must drink sodas and juices.

  5. AAFanboy Guest

    On an AA flight currently in domestic first and the flight attendant informed the cabin that the plane was not catered so minimal booze is available. It is a disappointment these days as we return to travel that the airlines are not capable of catering the flight properly.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @AAfanboy

      I was delAAyed four hours then cancelled the other night. I would have gladly taken a flight with no catering. Good luck this summer during high season.

  6. Alex Guest

    With the rise in adult babies who refuse to wear masks while flying, what could possibly go wrong with this?

    1. Madge Guest

      Adult babies = Republicans

    2. Catherine Guest

      Unless it’s an M95 mask that the airlines give out for free, your little cloth mask don’t work. That’s why a lot of people don’t see the reason for wearing mask.

  7. Alonzo Diamond

    Can't wait for the "but drinking with your mask off spreads covid" comments lmao.

  8. Dr. Omar Altalib Guest

    Serving alcohol on an airplane is a terrible idea!

  9. JamesW Guest

    Ugh, just when you thought it was safe to go back to the skies.

    I look forward to Gayle King's reporting on the skyrocketing rates of "air rage" from drunken Tiffany and Skyler, who violently assault a flight attendant over a mask dispute or being cut off after nineteen cans of Bud Light.

  10. AA77DCA Guest

    As an AA flight attendant I would like to address a few misconceptions. All the mask compliance issues I personally encountered were liquor related and all in the forward cabins where booze was free. The rule was ONE alcoholic beverage per person in first & business on domestic flights. It is much easier for one or two cabin crew members to take care of 16 people than two or three watching 150. Most of the...

    As an AA flight attendant I would like to address a few misconceptions. All the mask compliance issues I personally encountered were liquor related and all in the forward cabins where booze was free. The rule was ONE alcoholic beverage per person in first & business on domestic flights. It is much easier for one or two cabin crew members to take care of 16 people than two or three watching 150. Most of the alcohol related issues came from airport vendors allowing alcohol to be ordered “to go”. So people would buy one or two drinks & pour them in reusable water bottles and bring them onboard.

    At least resuming alcohol on planes allows the cabin crew to more efficiently monitor consumption but you MUST stop the smuggling of alcohol by demanding vendors to stop the carry out booze policy.

    1. Chris_ Member

      Your comment doesn't make much sense. If the main culprit, in your view, is to-go booze, then why are all the mask compliance issues in the forward cabin? Certainly, passengers in the whole aircraft would be bringing to-go beverages, not ones in First who are expecting free beverages onboard.

      (Also, if there ever was a 1 beverage per person rule, which I've never heard of, your colleagues certainly don't seem to follow it. Doubles (whether...

      Your comment doesn't make much sense. If the main culprit, in your view, is to-go booze, then why are all the mask compliance issues in the forward cabin? Certainly, passengers in the whole aircraft would be bringing to-go beverages, not ones in First who are expecting free beverages onboard.

      (Also, if there ever was a 1 beverage per person rule, which I've never heard of, your colleagues certainly don't seem to follow it. Doubles (whether ordered or not) seem to be the norm on AA.)

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @AA77DCA

      Thank you for your service. Yah I hear pilots announce and also gate agents that no liquor is allowed to be bought on board for consumption.

  11. Sel, D. Guest

    @Lucky have you confirmed free drinks will return for MCE?

    1. Chris_ Member

      This tweet mentions MCE: https://twitter.com/xJonNYC/status/1504712632892284934?s=20&t=NwnndKTHdIC4z-8Ia_QtVg

  12. George Romey Guest

    Glad to see this coming back. I just hope even if the mask mandate stays in place (and I would be anything less than surprised if it remains) food and booze comes back to coach.

  13. Nigel Guest

    I just saw a person in scum-class get unruly on an AA flight, so maybe it’s a bit soon?

  14. Steve Diamond

    "but on other hand American offered free alcohol to Main Cabin Extra (extra legroom economy) customers, so I wonder if it ended up being a wash"

    No the free drinks incentivizes people to pay the $30-$80 extra for main cabin extra.

    1. Chris_ Member

      Or, for example, I booked a couple of evening flights where the upgrade looked unlikely on AA on jetBlue instead, knowing at least I'd have nice legroom and could buy a glass of wine or two. So, it also can increase bookings on AA when they are providing full service.

  15. AA70 Member

    They must not have been making money off this and was used as a reason to cut costs or else they would have seen value in bringing this back sooner. They are handing out pretzels and soft drinks in economy anyway, which people lower their mask to consume so not like this is any different.

    Also Doug Parker has multiple DUIs

    1. ArthurSFO New Member

      I'm not naive, but I'm really surprised that Parker had a DUI while CEO of US Airways but didn't face any known consequences at the company, and certainly not in his career. It's amazing what some people can get away with.

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @AA70

      Be grateful for Doug Parker. He went to bat for American Airlines and cozied up with President Trump for bailout money during the pandemic in 2020.
      I didn’t read the article today but apparently Delta is now complaining they didn’t receive COVID money bailouts.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Steve Diamond

"but on other hand American offered free alcohol to Main Cabin Extra (extra legroom economy) customers, so I wonder if it ended up being a wash" No the free drinks incentivizes people to pay the $30-$80 extra for main cabin extra.

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BonvoyedAgain Guest

Uhm, he had 3.

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Chris_ Member

Your comment doesn't make much sense. If the main culprit, in your view, is to-go booze, then why are all the mask compliance issues in the forward cabin? Certainly, passengers in the whole aircraft would be bringing to-go beverages, not ones in First who are expecting free beverages onboard. (Also, if there ever was a 1 beverage per person rule, which I've never heard of, your colleagues certainly don't seem to follow it. Doubles (whether ordered or not) seem to be the norm on AA.)

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