Southwest and American Pause Alcohol Service on Flights

Given unruly passenger behavior, it's not a surprise

Bad behavior on flights has led some airlines to stop alcohol service.
Paolo Chiabrando/Unsplash

For some travelers, ordering a cocktail, beer or wine while airborne is a regular part of taking to the skies. For others, it’s a way to reduce apprehension over flying. Before the pandemic, raising the bar for in-flight drinks service was starting to become a feature in the travel industry. Now, however, the reverse is true — at least for a pair of airlines, who have temporarily paused serving all alcoholic beverages on flights.

CNN reports that American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have both taken the dramatic step of nixing the sale of alcohol on their flights. Why? Well, passengers are getting more and more disruptive these days, including one who assaulted a Southwest flight attendant, causing the flight attendant to lose 2 teeth in the process. (Pro tip for air travel: do not ever do this.)

Southwest was the first to put a stop to alcohol services, followed by American. “Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft,” wrote Brady Byrnes, American Airlines’ managing director of flight services, in a memo.

The TSA’s mask mandate for planes currently runs through September 13; at present, American’s alcohol sales will be on hold until then as well. Will it curb unruly behavior on planes? One can only hope it will.


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