Southwest Airlines to start selling alcohol on flights again

Southwest Airlines said Friday it plans to start serving alcohol on flights later this month, nearly two years after it suspended the service. coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

This move, opposed by the airline’s flight attendants’ union, will make American Airlines the last of the four major airlines still alcohol sales for most passengers.

Southwest said customers have expressed a desire for more beverage options and announced it would restore alcoholic beverage sales on flights 176 miles or longer from Feb. 16. The airline also said it would expand its non-alcoholic options.

Officials from the union representing the airline’s flight attendants said they were “outraged” at the “unsafe and irresponsible” decision.

“We have adamantly and unequivocally informed management that resuming alcohol sales while the mask mandate is in effect has great potential to increase issues of non-compliance and customer misconduct,” said Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local. 556, in a statement.

A federal mandate requires passengers to wear masks at all times at the airport and during flights, except while eating, drinking or taking medication for short periods. Enforcement of the mandate has led to abusive behavior from passengers, including attacks on flight attendants.

The Delta Air Lines chief executive said in a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland that the government should put passengers convicted of disrupting flights on a no-fly list, and calling it a “needed step” toward addressing a spike in violence on board aircraft.

An American Airlines spokeswoman said Friday that the company had not yet set a date for the return of alcohol in the main cabins of aircraft. Alcohol is available in first class. She said the airline will work closely with its union and medical experts to determine when alcohol sales in the main cabins will return.

Delta Air Lines resumed alcohol sales in key cabins in April and United Airlines resumed in November.

In May, Southwest Airlines announced it had paused plans to resume serving alcohol on flights, citing the “recent increase in in-flight incidents involving disruptive passengers.”

“We realize that this decision will be disappointing for some customers, but we believe it is now the right decision in the interest of the safety and comfort of everyone on board,” the statement said at the time.

It was not clear what had changed since then. A spokesperson for the airline declined to comment beyond the company’s official statement.

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