US airlines want to ban alcohol following bad behaviour from passengers

Airlines have reported a sharp rise in the number of passengers behaving badly on flights in recent months, including drinking their own alcohol, assaulting flight attendants and refusing to wear masks. Photo: iStock

After a marked increase in disruptive – and sometimes dangerous – behaviour by passengers, some airlines are changing their plans to start selling alcohol in the cabin again.

Southwest, which banned a woman for allegedly assaulting a flight attendant last week, said it would postpone the return of alcohol sales to an unspecified time after an earlier pause due to the pandemic. The carrier had planned to resume sales on flights to Hawaii this month and other flights next month.

“Given a recent uptick industry-wide of incidents in-flight involving disruptive passengers, we’re pausing previously announced resumption of alcohol service onboard,” the airline said in a statement, adding that it would still expand its selection of soft drinks and coffee. “We realise this decision will be disappointing for some customers, but we feel it to be the right decision now in the interest of safety and comfort of all onboard.”

American followed suit, telling flight attendants in a memo on Saturday that it was suspending alcohol in the main cabin. Alcohol will still be offered during flights in business and first class.

The memo said many passengers might have more anxiety than usual and might not be familiar with the covid-era flight changes, and it acknowledged that some “deeply disturbing situations” had occurred recently.

“We also recognise that alcohol can contribute to atypical behaviour from customers onboard and we owe it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers,” said the memo from Brady Byrnes, the airline’s managing director of flight service training and administration.

The airline stopped selling alcohol in the main cabin last March and had previously said it would return later in this summer. Saturday’s memo said alcohol sales would be suspended through September 13, when the federal mask mandate for planes, airports and other public transportation is set to expire.

“While we appreciate that customers and crew members are eager to return to ‘normal,’ we will move cautiously and deliberately when restoring pre-COVID practices,” Byrnes wrote.

United said that as of Tuesday, beer, wine and hard seltzer will be available on most flights over 800 miles (1287 kilometres). It has previously planned to make it available on flights longer than 200 miles, or about an hour, but decided to take “a more cautious approach to the roll out.” The airline did not give a reason for the change.

Airlines have reported a sharp rise in the number of passengers behaving badly on flights in recent months, including drinking their own alcohol, assaulting flight attendants and refusing to wear masks. The Federal Aviation Administration said last week that it had received 2,500 reports of unruly behaviour since the beginning of the year, including 1,900 reports of passengers disobeying federal face-mask requirements.

The agency has announced civil penalties against at least 22 passengers since February.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in a statement Tuesday that broader action on alcohol sales was needed to combat the problem.

“The incidents of violence on planes is out of control and alcohol is often a contributor. The federal government should provide guidance to airlines and airports on pausing alcohol sales for a period of time,” she said. “We should do everything in our power to remove contributors to the problem.”

The Washington Post


LATEST NEWS

NEWS RELATED

Traveller Letters: Here's the trick to getting a refund if your travel is cancelled

If you pay for a service using a credit card you are normally entitled to a refund if the service is not provided, Photo: Jessica Shapiro PLAY THE CARDS People such as the Tuckers (Traveller Letters, May 15), who are owed money for cancelled travel plans, should pursue a chargeback…

Read more: Traveller Letters: Here's the trick to getting a refund if your travel is cancelled

Traveller Letters: It seems that some parts of Australia don't want tourism dollars

Radiance of the Seas in Darwin in 2018. The Northern Territory has decreed that no cruise ship with more than 150 passengers and crew can enter their waters. Photo: Getty Images CRUISE CONTROLLED My wife and I are booked on a Ponant cruise, Darwin to Broome, departing August 9, 2021.…

Read more: Traveller Letters: It seems that some parts of Australia don't want tourism dollars

Traveller Letters: No, I don't want to use my room's coffee machine to make tea

Our readers have issues with tea and coffee facilities in hotel rooms. BEVERAGE RAGE As someone who detests coffee (Traveller Letters, May 8), I immediately look for an electric kettle or jug in hotel rooms. When I ask for one I am told to heat the water through the coffee…

Read more: Traveller Letters: No, I don't want to use my room's coffee machine to make tea

Don't dream it's over: Traveller readers reveal their travel dreams and inspiration

Traveller’s readers have shared with us why they’ll never give up on travel. Photo: iStock Last week in our ‘Don’t dream it’s over’ feature article, we invited you, the Traveller readers to help keep Australia’s travel dreams alive by sharing your own inspirational travel stories and images. Below is a…

Read more: Don't dream it's over: Traveller readers reveal their travel dreams and inspiration

Letters: Airline cancellation fees due to coronavirus - here's a simple way to avoid them

Thousands of flights around the world have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Getty Images WAITING GAME If you have paid for an international flight later this year and try to cancel, you are likely to be in for a cancellation charge. You can avoid this very simply.…

Read more: Letters: Airline cancellation fees due to coronavirus - here's a simple way to avoid them

Traveller Letters: 'Special Australian fare' leaves us still waiting on $13,000 refund

One reader is still waiting on $13,192 worth of flights with Lufthansa to be refunded after they were cancelled. Photo: AP CANCEL CULTURE We are still awaiting our refund from Lufthansa for $13,192 paid on September 12, 2019, for air travel in May and June that was cancelled. We would…

Read more: Traveller Letters: 'Special Australian fare' leaves us still waiting on $13,000 refund

Traveller letters: Here's something Australia needs to learn from Scandinavia

Buffet breakfasts result in a lot of waste, but not in Norway. Photo: iStock NORWAY’S NO-WASTE BUFFETS I have always shared Joseph Ting’s concerns regarding food waste around tourism, particularly at breakfast buffets, so I was pleased to see at many hotels in Norway, the sign, “Take what you want…

Read more: Traveller letters: Here's something Australia needs to learn from Scandinavia

Tip-o-meter: Readers' tips

Travel passes are good value in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and many museums offer seniors a discount. Photo: Luis Dafos / Alamy Stock Photo TRAVELLER ASKS What are your top money-saving tips and deals? Let us know and we’ll publish the best pieces of advice here. TIP OF THE WEEK…

Read more: Tip-o-meter: Readers' tips

Traveller Letters: $778 for one night getaway - how did it get so expensive?

Traveller letters, January 10, 2020: A foolproof cure for snoring air travellers?

Traveller letters: Delayed and downgraded - I won't fly Qantas again

Traveller letters: Is Air Canada's motto 'We're not happy, unless you're unhappy'?

Traveller letters: Dear hotel designers, glass walls to bathrooms are never a good idea

Traveller letters: An insulting rejection from the Singapore Airlines lounge

Traveller letters: Airport arrivals in the US continue to be an unpleasant event

Traveller letters: An alarming incident in Greece a warning to self-drivers

OTHER NEWS