The first rule of flight club is that you ... well, you don't run out of free booze, and United Airlines blew it this week by accidentally forgetting to renew its liquor license at two lounges, reports the AP. Thus on Wednesday and Thursday the two United Clubs in Terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey couldn't serve any beer, wine, or spirits until the matter was resolved with Newark City Hall. (The club in Terminal A sits in Elizabeth, NJ; it could have served liquor, but cruelly, it was closed for construction.) The license issue was resolved by Friday morning and travelers were once again able to get free cocktails before jetting off. "We resumed service this morning and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience," said United rep Rahsaan Johnson. The airline has spent the last year trying to win back once-loyal business travelers who abandoned the airline over frequent delays.
It's made progress by improving its on-time performance, unveiling new lounges and business class seats, and reaching new labor contracts that are expected to increase employee morale and service. But this week's hiccup—at one of the airline's busiest airports—just shows how many obstacles it still needs to overcome. A renewal package for the license was sent to United in May but was never returned, per Marjorie Harris, press secretary for the City of Newark. The license expired June 30 but the lapse wasn't noticed until this week. The two clubs immediately stopped serving liquor. Membership in the clubs can cost up to $550 a year. The airline has to pay two separate fees to obtain a liquor license: one to New Jersey state government and one to Newark's Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. The check to the state was cashed but the check to the city was not, Harris said, "because the paperwork was not completed."