If you’re flying Southwest Airlines, don’t expect to be able to purchase an alcoholic beverage until next year at the earliest.
Southwest extends alcohol ban through January 2022
Southwest Airlines has revealed internally that it won’t resume alcohol service until January 2022 at the earliest. This timeline coincides with the current federal transportation mask mandate that’s in place, which currently applies through January 18, 2022 (though it’s very likely to be extended). As a reminder, it’s also a violation of FAA regulations to consume alcohol onboard a flight that isn’t served by the crew, so you can’t bring your own drinks either.
Many airlines cut back inflight service around the start of the pandemic in order to minimize contact between passengers and crew, and maximize the amount of time people have their masks on. The airline was going to resume alcohol service over the summer, but decided to backtrack due to a huge uptick in the number of air rage incidents. In one particular incident leading up to this decision, a passenger assaulted a Southwest flight attendant, knocking out two of her teeth.
Do other airlines also ban alcohol?
Southwest is the only major airline in the United States to have a blanket ban on alcohol. Airlines like Delta, JetBlue, Spirit, United, etc., are once again serving alcohol. The only other airline to have a partial ban on alcohol is American — the airline serves alcohol in first class, but doesn’t sell it in economy.
In the case of American, the airline plans to bring back alcohol when the federal mask mandate for transportation is lifted, so that could be quite a while.
Personally I’m not sure I agree with the logic of American and Southwest, and I say this as someone who almost never drinks on domestic flights:
- Yes, people are misbehaving horribly on planes, and flight attendants are putting up with a lot
- That being said, overwhelmingly it doesn’t seem to be alcohol related, but rather seems to involve masks and general divisiveness in the country
- Is there any data to suggest that Southwest is seeing fewer incidents as a result of its policy than an airline like United, for example?
- Couldn’t airlines take a middle ground approach and agree to sell passengers one drink? I could see that maybe even leading to fewer incidents, because some people sure act like having a drink may calm their nerves
Southwest Airlines won’t resume alcohol sales until January 2022 at the earliest, which is when the current federal mask mandate currently runs through. Southwest is the only major US airline to ban alcohol entirely, so it’s interesting to see the airline deviating from its peers in this way.
What do you make of Southwest’s continued alcohol ban?