Southwest Airlines won’t resume alcohol service onboard any of its flights in June as had been previously planned after a dramatic escalation in the number of unruly passenger incidents sweeping through the airline industry. Last week, a veteran Southwest flight attendant lost two teeth after being assaulted by a passenger following an onboard mask dispute.
Southwest had been planning to start selling beer and wine on flights to and from Hawaii starting June 24 after a more than 12-month hiatus due to the pandemic that prompted the airline to dramatically cut back inflight service.
Onboard alcohol sales would have then been extended to all flights over 250 miles from July 14. More alcohol options, including wine, vodka and whiskey, would also have been added on this date.
But following a spate of high-profile and oftentimes violent incidents onboard U.S. domestic flights, Southwest confirmed on Friday that it wouldn’t be bringing back alcohol onboard its flights anytime soon.
“Given the recent uptick in industry-wide incidents of passenger disruptions inflight, we have made the decision to pause the previously announced re-start of alcohol service,” a Southwest spokesperson confirmed without saying when alcohol might now be brought back.
The slow return of pre-pandemic service levels was meant to herald a new start for the U.S. aviation industry which has witnessed a surge in demand, driven mainly by bargain-hunting leisure travelers, in recent weeks.
Instead, airlines are reporting unprecedented numbers of unruly passenger incidents with Southwest alone recording 477 passenger ‘misconduct’ reports between April 8 and May 15.
Lyn Montgomery, president of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 556 branch which represents Southwest flight attendants said the situation had become “intolerable“. In a letter to Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly, the union leader wrote: “The attitudes and behaviors of the flying public have, unfortunately, declined.”
“This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature.”
New video has emerged of the passenger lashing out a Southwest flight attendant on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego which resulted in the flight attendant losing two teeth. The veteran crew member was left bloodied after being punched in the face because she reportedly told the assailent to wear her face mask correctly.
The assault only stopped after other passengers broke up the melee. On Friday, Southwest said the suspect had been banned from ever flying with the airline again.
Back in March, flight attendants at United Airlines tried to ring the alarm, saying the resumption of alcohol service on certain flight had created a “toxic environment” for flight attendants who were struggling to enforce a federal face mask mandate.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
and soon a self entiled american will proudly announce her/his civil rights were taken away. what happened to this once kind of nice lil country?