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Yet Another Airline Pulls Back on the Booze

United joins Southwest, American in limiting or suspending alcohol service over unruly passengers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2021 7:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – A third airline has hopped on the "curtail alcohol" bandwagon after a slew of increasingly aggressive in-flight incidents, many related to unruly passengers balking at having to wear face masks. Airlines in general had suspended serving alcohol during the pandemic to limit passenger-flight attendant interaction and prevent spreading the virus, but most had started or planned to start offering it again, until the assault last month of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant—just one of an "unprecedented number" of recent passenger misconduct incidents. Southwest delayed the resumption of its alcohol service after that attack, and American Airlines soon joined it, opting not to begin serving alcohol in coach again until summer's end (you can still get booze in first and business class). Now, United Airlines has also decided to limit its alcohol service, noting beer, wine, and hard seltzer will be available only on domestic flights longer than 800 miles or on hub-to-hub flights, per CBS News.

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Before this latest decision, United had announced plans to reintroduce alcohol service on flights of 200 miles or more—basically, flights of about an hour—but now it says it has opted for "a more cautious approach to the rollout," per the Washington Post. It's not clear how long Southwest and United plan on keeping their limitations in place, though American says it will resume universal alcohol service on Sept. 13—the day the federal mask mandate for public transportation is set to expire. Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in a Tuesday statement that "incidents of violence on planes is out of control and alcohol is often a contributor," adding: "We should do everything in our power to remove contributors to the problem." At least one other major airline is keeping the liquor flowing, at least for now. A spokesperson for Delta tells The Points Guy travel blog that there are "no changes" to its beer, wine, and cocktail service "on most domestic flights." (Read more airlines stories.)

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