American Airlines Expecting To Bring Beverage Service Back To Coach Next Month

American Airlines, like other major carriers, cut first class meal service early in the pandemic and largely eliminated drink service from coach. American brought back coach buy on board as first class food, and has always offered at least drinks on request up front. However on most domestic flights there’s still not a formal drink service.

That appears to be about to change, according to American Airlines seer JonNYC who notes that the date for the return of drinks isn’t first

It’s interesting to see Jon mentioning that the timing here is influenced by a willingness of American’s flight attendants union to serve drinks in economy. That’s always been a part of their job, Covid-19 spreads largely via aerosols (serving a drink isn’t going to be high risk), and planes haven’t been significant vectors of virus spread.

There’s nothing wrong with serving alcohol on planes but I don’t think the coach drink service will include alcoholic beverages (or a return of buy on board).

Flight attendant pushback reminds me that whether school districts opened for in-person instruction or Zoom School had little to do with virus risk in a given community (there doesn’t appear to be any evidence “to suggest that measures of COVID-19 risk are correlated with school reopening decisions”) and instead was more easily explained by strength of the local teacher’s union.

Update: An American Airlines spokesperson offers,

Hi Gary! Sending you a quick note in regards to the beverage service article. We are evaluating how and when to bring back beverage service in the main cabin, but no decisions have been made. Beverage service will not be resuming in the main cabin on Nov. 4 or Nov. 11. When beverage service does return, it will be introduced incrementally to make sure our flight attendants and customers feel safe and comfortable. We look forward to being able to reintroduce this service for our customers, but there are no immediate plans to do so at this time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. FA Union has an issue with drink service returning to Coach?

    Is that because of the furloughs?

  2. Skip the Full Beverage Service in Coach and just continue with the single serve Bottle of Water and the snack in the Bag. We are in the midst of a Pandemic and No One needs More than That….if You Do, Bring Your Own.

  3. I don’t think the issue is that flight attendants don’t want to serve drinks. During a regular beverage service, everyone will be removing their masks to drink at the same time. Potentially, the entire plane could be maskless promoting the spread of the virus. Just a thought.

  4. Planes are packed full ~ why have EVERYONE drinking on a packed flight without masks on?!? Protect that poor person crammed in a middle seat! Besides, passengers have a hard time behaving themselves without the alcohol ‍♀️

  5. If this is true, shame on the FA union. Go ahead and continue to help take down the airline, and then more of you will be without a job.

  6. FA’s are there primarily to surf on their phones and be surly. No wait, I mean primarily there for your safety.

    Acting surly is just an added bonus.

  7. Boo. This makes me less likely to fly American. Drinks = no masks. I’m with the FAs on this one for once.

  8. The FA’s don’t have a problem with going up an down the aisles handing out credit card applications. Also no problem going back and forth accepting filled out forms. Some even lend their pens to customers to fill out the forms and take them back and give them to other passengers to fill out the applications.

    What is the difference between handing out applications (they get a monetary award for) or serving sealed alcohol and soft drinks?

  9. Are you kidding? Schools opened and then had to close. Also as a former teacher and a family full of teachers, no one wants to teach over zoom. Commanding a classroom of students over zoom is a nightmare. I think you speak of what you do not know.

  10. Tssk tssk Johhny, yoou shouuld knoow bettter thaan tooo makke pisssy stattements wheen yoou donn’t eveen speell yourr owwn namme correectly…

  11. It’s about time. Honestly it’s brutal sitting in the middle of a A321 on a four hour flight with no drink service. Some shorter flights they don’t even hand out the bag with water and snack. When you’re running short on time or get stuck at an airport that still has nothing open yet, you’re kinda just stuck with dry mouth the better part of your day. The sooner, the better!

  12. What the author is telling you is hundreds of Flight Attendants are getting COVID, and are not being paid while they are off ! Also when a passenger gets COVID , the Airline calls the Flight Attendant and tells them after the fact , and then they have to quarantine/ with no pay ! All the cross contamination from cans to hands an people with beverages an no mask ? CMON MAN , do the math . The Airlines will have to shut down !

  13. @ken – this guy commonly comments on things he doesn’t know. its a travel blog, not a respected news source.

    The dig at unions is hilarious, thanks to unions at least Delta FA’s avoided furloughs. “planes haven’t been significant vectors of virus spread” because of the precautions currently in place. Doh.

  14. I n general, I agree with Ken here. Many universities opened on campus classes simply because of $$$$$. Bringing 5-30k students to a small area for a prolonged period did not turn out to be a great decision at many campuses, (UNC et al) especially those lacking great contact tracing. “ SUNY Oneonta president resigns after school’s COVID-19 outbreak”

  15. Does anyone know how much revenue is generated by selling cocktails ($9.00ea) on board in coach? Profits over safety?

  16. @KK – Flight attendant positivity rates are below the nation’s average, aerosol spread isn’t promoted by drink service (and hasn’t been a problem in first class where it’s already been offered)

  17. Just one man’s opinion. Under three hours, not necessary. Over three hours, the fas are answering 30-50 call bells. May as well pull out the carts and do a service. I chuckled at the credit card remark. I’m a fa and I never do the CC in today’s climate. Some will make the announcement and manage to collect the card on their death bed, lol

  18. So if a flight attendant had exposure and served drinks, would anyone feel differently?

    Of course. Flight attendants deal in close proximity to thousands of people a day and take that risk that you are concerned about, but people only think about themselves, different hot spot cities, hotels, shuttles, airports, and planes. Asymptomatic people fly. Others try to eat pretzels for an hour and don’t wear masks.

    Beverage service is not a flight attendants job. It is a service.

    If an airlines keeps middle seats open (not American) for safety, then that’s saying that a flight attendant shouldn’t serve either.

  19. @CeCe “Beverage service is not a flight attendants job. It is a service.” It is a service the airline offers, and a job performed by flight attendants.

    Have you read the JCBA? “A Flight Attendant shall provide beverage and meal service as set forth in the Flight Attendant
    Manual and revisions thereto”

  20. You have no idea what you’re talking about. The unions are fighting drink service because then hundreds of people would be in close proximity with everyone WITHOUT MASKS, talking and spreading the virus. This has nothing to do with FAs not wanting to serve drinks. Stop being a selfish child because you can’t have a drink an on airplane.

  21. We have been able to slow the virus BECAUSE of wearing a mask. Of those hundreds of people a day we serve maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who will receive the virus because you have to have that drink .. Sure here. Have a drink and the virus is free.

  22. None of this made any sense. FC was still being served meals and alcohol. Do FC passengers not pose a health risk?. I do think the alcohol is a problem. There are flights with no food and people just want to drink endlessly because they don’t understand a plane isn’t a bar and forgot we are in the middle of a pandemic. So now an FA is having to cut someone off and be the mask police as well. Pretty much an unfortunate situation.

  23. Whoever complained about no water n snack bag on short flights, those are only given out on flights over a certain number of hours/miles. As a flight attendant, I ALWAYS bring my own snacks n water from home, as we also are constantly running from plane to plane with no time to stop to get something. It’s COMMON SENSE

  24. There will never be any science supporting the use of masks on airplanes (because masks are almost certainly useless on airplanes and pretty much everyplace else), but people BELIEVE in masks. People FEEL they protect them because humans can’t really process how sub-microscopic organisms work. That said, if most people don’t WANT drinks to be served on airplanes, airlines will be happy to oblige on this cost saving mechanism. It is only when people understand that other pax drinking on an airplane won’t increase their risk of Covid will the drinks return. Next year maybe?

  25. The point is to protect the flight attendants and passengers. Why the added risk for a coke? Flight attendants (I am one) would rather do a beverage service because the flights are long and boring and passengers have nothing to do. The beverage service kept people in their seats and occupied for a fair amount of the flight. Also, how do you know I haven’t been exposed on my 10 other full flights on a 3 day trip? Now I’ve touched my eyes or my nose without realizing it before boarding and now I’m breaking the ice and touching the cups and napkins and everything else that goes along with that service. Even that bag of pretzels. Same for my co workers. If I was exposed more than likely they were as well. Not to mention everybody having their mask off at the same time drinking and eating. I cannot even begin to describe the filthy, disgusting things I’ve seen when it comes to germs being spread on and around your seat and row your sitting in. So forgive me if you think it’s because we are lazy and want to “surf” our phones. And frankly, it’s exhausting having to reprimand adults who act like they’re 5 and can’t follow the rules. So now you understand the surly look.

  26. I’m a Flight Attendant: I have no idea what AA management is planning on doing. With Covid spiking, and it’s hard enough to get people to where their masks properly (over nose and mouth) The addition of coach beverages is just going to give the traveling public another means to not comply. The safety of the Crew and fellow passengers is being threatened now on a daily basis, I’ve seen people nurse a glass of water for 2.5 hrs under the premise of ” I’m drinking water” knowing that we allow no mask while consuming beverage and food. This is about the safety of the passengers and Crew. I catch enough shit from passengers that we don’t do social distancing, that’s one of the reasons why we require masks. When we get the Covid situation under control and it’s safe to resume coach service I’m all for it, until then it doesn’t make any sense. Too many people will be put at risk. For the most part the majority of our passengers comply and I thank you for that. To the few that don’t, you might want to be start to be considerate of your fellow passengers because it’s about them and the people seated around you. It’s the policy of the Airline and we, as FA’s, just try to enforce the policy for everyone’s safety on the plane.

  27. Flight Attendants have no issue with a drink service in coach under normal circumstances. However, during a pandemic, allowing hundreds of passengers to remove their masks at the same time to sip on a drink is a very bad idea. Not only for the crew but for all the passengers sitting around them.

  28. Just curious …all you flight attendants…are first class passengers immune to Covid? They get served so I am wondering if FC is Covid free?

  29. Dora, I agree with you. It doesn’t make sense, does it ? There’s no difference between 1st and Coach. It’s my personal belief both cabins should fall under the same protection procedures during flight, it’s not my call I just follow procedures

  30. First class is on demand just like coach. They request drinks but there is a limit of refills. I don’t make the policies I just have to follow them. And no it doesn’t make sense to serve a few like they’re immune to this virus.

  31. On my airline (not AA), drink service was partially reinstated with fewer choices as a kind of compromise. Flight attendants were taken aback when virtually every customer pulled down their mask and blurted their drink choice directlyD in the flight attendants’ faces. Hopefully, we’ll be putting the carts away and discontinuing this until things are back to normal.

  32. I am okay with no drink service on the flights to protect the flight attendants. What I find insulting is to be sitting one row directly behind first class and see every one of those passengers getting served anything they want. Are first class passengers Co-Vid free? Ridiculous.

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