Takes a lot to get through some flights.
With up to 44% of them being delayed on some domestic routes, a stiff drink can certainly help mitigate the wait. Especially if said spirit, wine or beer is locally sourced, thoughtfully curated and arrives in bottomless (albeit responsible) quantities.
While sites like Routehappy will rate a flight on attributes like Wi-Fi, fresh meals and leg room, nobody’s thought to rank the airlines by their drinks menu.
Until now. Herein, our highly subjective list … subject to change based on your flight. Much like your arrival time.
5) Virgin America
Based in California, Virgin stocks tasty Golden State faves like One Hope Wines and Anchor Steam Brewery. As for spirits, they offer solid choices in Glenfiddich, Tito’s and Bombay Sapphire.
4) Alaska Airlines
Alaska Air is actually based in Seattle, which you’ll notice as you’re downing handcrafted spirits from Jet City’s own award-winning Sun Liquor Distillery. They do carry beers from Alaska as well (cheers to Alaskan Amber and Alaskan Freeride Pale Ale), and on trips to Hawaii they’ll have the hard-to-find Kona Longboard Island Lager from Kailua-Kona.
Winner of various culinary awards, Emirates also has a great lineup of drink options — all free, even in Economy. While they do offer Vin de Pays d’Oc French wines and two exclusive Dom Perignons, where they really excel is in the cocktail mixers. According to AirReview, passengers get two choices of vermouth, a good selection of sours, and if they order a Bloody Mary, the staff will lay out the vodka, tomato juice, Tabasco sauce and even salt and pepper so you can mix it how you like.
2) Delta Air Lines
While the drinks aren’t free in economy, you can expect an amazing craft beer selection on U.S. flights, including Brooklyn Brewery and Sweetwater Brewery (from the airline’s home state of Georgia). A very respectable spirits selection includes Avión tequila and Woodford Reserve Small Batch Bourbon. Their wine pairings with food are especially elevated (pun intended), as curated by master sommelier Andrea Robinson, a three-time James Beard Award winner and one of only 21 female master somms in the world.
1) British Airways
You'll find a global, completely complimentary selection here: wines from New Zealand, Spain, France and England. Top-flight beer (Guinness, Grolsch, Stella Artois, Pilsner Urquell). And their “house whiskey” is Johnnie Walker Black. We’ve even seen a Glenlivet 15 before.
Words by Clint Headley