American Airlines Is Extending Their In-Flight Alcohol Ban … But Only in Economy
First class passengers can still enjoy full beverage service, including alcohol on all flights
American Airlines has announced that, as of last week, their ban on in-flight alcohol has been extended through January 18, 2022. The kicker, though, is that there is one major exception to the ban — and it has to do with where on the plane you’re sitting.
According to a new report from NBC, the ban — which was set to expire on September 13 — will continue in light of recent events. (Recent events, of course, being the deluge of violent in-flight incidents over the course of the past several months.) The announcement follows the FAA’s call for airports to end to-go drinks earlier this month in a last-ditch attempt to thwart unruly passengers.
“We are doing all we can to help create a safe environment for our crew and customers onboard our aircraft,” American Airlines said in a memo obtained by NBC.
But the ban only seems to apply to those flying economy. Per American Airlines’ website, first class passengers will still be able to enjoy full beverage service, including alcohol on all flights. The message seems to be that economy-level passengers are more of a liability in the air, and subsequently not entitled to full beverage service.
To be clear, we understand that the ban of in-flight alcohol comes out of necessity. For starters, the end of the ban is directly linked to the expiration of the federal mask mandate for air travel, which was also recently extended through January 2022. On top of that, the FAA has received a record number of reports (nearly 4,000 in fact) regarding unsavory behavior by passengers, with offenses ranging everywhere from throwing luggage at other passengers and violently refusing mask mandates to sexually assaulting flight attendants, with proposed fines topping more than $1 million on the year. It stands to reason that removing alcohol from the equation will serve to de-escalate the already-turbulent situation.
But the optics of banning in-flight alcohol exclusively for economy passengers are admittedly not very good. It doesn’t appear that American Airlines has commented any further on the matter, though perhaps it has not yet occurred to them that people who can afford first-class seats are just as capable of wreaking drunken havoc as the people who can’t … especially when you consider that the former group are drinking for free. And ultimately, that’s probably what this decision comes down to: after a tough year for the airline industry, no one wants to alienate the most lucrative and loyal group of customers in the friendly skies. First-class flyers are often also frequent, expense-account-backed flyers, and if they can’t have a drink on American, they may take their business elsewhere.
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