Here's When Southwest Airlines Plans To Offer In-Flight Alcohol Again

Do you have some drink tickets burning a hole in your travel wallet? Southwest Airlines has some good news for you. In 2020, the airline was "first major U.S. airline" to suspend "inflight service," except for canned water (per USA Today). In a recent Southwest Airlines press release, the company announced it will resume its "full menu of on-board beverage options" on February 16, 2022. On "flights of 176 miles or more," passengers will have a robust beverage menu including a variety of sodas, juices, and select alcoholic options. Alcoholic options include beers, wines, and liquors.

Although some passengers might be ready to pop open a cold one, not everyone is excited to see the alcohol start flowing again. In a recent CNN article, a representative for the Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants' union said the change has "great potential to increase customer non-compliance and misconduct issues." While unruly behavior might become a hot topic on a news cycle, flight attendants are living that situation in real life. 

Alcohol consumption and mask mandates have been a debated topic within the travel industry. In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urged airports to curtail the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages when reports showed that over-consumption leads to unruly passengers and disturbances during travel, according to the Washington Post. While some people might like to start the unwinding before the plane arrives at its final destination, sipping in the friendly skies might not necessarily be a bubbly experience for everyone onboard.

Which airlines are still banning in-flight alcohol?

As Southwest Airlines resumes in-flight alcohol service, some passengers are wondering if all airlines will be pouring beer, wine, and other libations. While each airline is able to create its own policy, crew member and passenger safety are usually taken into consideration. According to Forbes, American Airlines and JetBlue are not selling alcohol in their coach class. While the companies may have varying reasons for the position, American Airlines recently cut back its service offerings on flights, including its second beverage service, at the beginning of 2022 (per The Points Guy). The implied reasoning for the changes is to limit passenger and crew interaction, particularly when masks are not being worn.

While some people might like a shot in their soda, there are rules about alcohol consumption on a plane. The FAA prohibits the consumption of alcohol not purchased on the plane (per the Washington Post). That rule has led some people to throw back a few at the bar or enjoy a to-go glass at the gate. Although an inebriated passenger is not allowed to board, flight crews have concerns over alcohol consumption, unruly behavior, and potential safety issues. While it appears the spirits are sipped more freely in the air, it might be best to pack a bag of patience on any flight. Wait until you arrive at the final destination to raise a toast to flying the friendly skies.