After a two-year pandemic-induced pause, American Airlines is bringing alcohol back to the main cabin on domestic flights, but a two-drink limit may be implemented soon because of worries that passengers would get carried away and become disruptive.
Despite the fact that the federal mask ban has been extended until May 3, the Dallas-based carrier stated it would begin selling alcohol in coach on April 18.
The return of alcohol was supposed to coincide with the relaxation of the mask mandate, although it had already been postponed multiple times due to the mandate’s extension.
Alcohol sales were suspended at American Airlines at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, but the airline has fallen behind other airlines that have long already reintroduced alcohol.
In May 2021, Delta reintroduced alcohol sales onboard, while Alaska did so in April 2021. Frontier and Spirit, for example, served alcohol until 2020.
American Airlines had wanted to bring back alcohol late last year, but the seemingly never-ending mask mandate has caused a delay in its reintroduction to coach, although service in First Class is nearly back to normal.
However, airlines are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the mandate, which they believe is causing more difficulties than it solves.
Unruly passenger behavior has increased since the regulation was implemented, with roughly two-thirds of disruptive passenger occurrences involving face mask compliance, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Booze has also been cited as a contributing factor in the alarming increase in rowdy passenger occurrences, but this is largely due to passengers bringing their own alcohol onboard or pre-loading their bags with to-go drinks from airport bars.
The assumption is that if flight attendants are in charge of supplying drinks, they would be able to keep a better eye on customer behavior and know when to cut passengers off. Other airlines have successfully restored alcohol in the main cabin for months without experiencing an increase in passenger complaints.
However, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents American Airlines crew members, would want to see a maximum in-flight drink limit of two beers per customer implemented. The union has already presented its case to the airline, and the idea is currently being reviewed by management.
The union had asked the airline to cut inflight operations because of the Omicron wave in January, but no such request has been made in the wake of the highly infectious BA.2 sub-variant sweeping the United States.