United Airlines confirmed on Sunday that it still intends to introduce alcohol back to its domestic main cabin from June 1 despite calls from its flight attendant union to temporarily “eliminate” alcohol in all cabins. On Friday, Southwest Airlines said it would delay the return of alcohol onboard its aircraft and American Airlines followed on Saturday citing unruly passenger behavior for its decision to keep alcohol out of the main cabin.
From June 1, however, United will once again offer Economy Class customers on most domestic flights over two hours a selection of beer and wine for purchase. United will also become the first airline to offer White Claw hard seltzer onboard its aircraft.
A selection of beers including Stella Artois, Breckenridge Brewery Juice Drop Hazy IPA and Kona Brewing Co. Big Wave Golden Ale will cost $8, while most red, white and sparkling wine options will cost $9. Premium wine options which have been selected in consultation with Doug Frost, Master Sommelier will cost significantly more at $18 for a 375ml bottle.
Hard liqour, including vodka, rum and Jack Daniels whiskey will remain unavailable for the timebeing and United hasn’t given any indication when these might be brought back.
Delta Air Lines introduced a limited range of alcoholic beverages for purchase on its domestic flights in April, while Alaska followed suit earlier this month. Both Allegiant and Spirit have been offering alcoholic beverages for purchase for several months.
But on Saturday, American Airlines decided to pull the plug on its own plans to bring back alcohol to the main cabin because it said it “recognizes that alcohol can contribute to atypical behavior from customers onboard”.
American’s vice president of flight service, Brady Byrnes said the airline “owed it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers.” Alcohol sales will remain suspended until the federal face mask mandate expires – currently set for September 13.
Southwest Airlines announced it wouldn’t bring alcohol back onboard its planes in June as had been planned following a vicious assault on one of its flight attendants who lost two teeth after being punched by a passenger.
Flight attendants at United fear the return of alcohol will only make a surge in unruly passenger behavior incidents even worse.
“Alcohol adds stress to our work environment and requires us to manage these situations which diverts our time away from providing other passengers the excellent customer service management is making a big deal about lately,” the United Branch of the AFA flight attendants union warned.
“The best solution, in our view given the current state of the industry, is to simply eliminate alcohol altogether on a temporary basis until the overall situation in the industry can be normalized.”
United’s decision to bring back alcohol will no doubt please customers who feel Southwest and American are punishing the majority for the actions of a few. Just make sure you drink in moderation. United’s flight attendants have been reminded to deny boarding to anyone who appears intoxicated and to refuse alcohol service to passengers who appear drunk.
Photo Credit: First Class Photography / Shutterstock.com
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.