American Airlines Will Bring Alcohol Back To Coach On September 13th

According to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, in a meeting with flight attendants (a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing), alcohol will be back in economy cabins starting September 13th.

American had planned to bring alcohol service back to coach starting June 1 but delayed it indefinitely, citing the rise in passenger incidents which had taken place without alcohol being served.

Doug Parker explained,

We’ve chosen not to reinstate alcohol in the main cabin until September 13th. There’s no coincidence there that’s the same date as the mask requirement ending. That’s why we did it. Because we don’t think putting alcohol on the airplane at the same time you’re having to enforce masks is a good idea.

Only we and Southwest have done that. Every other airline has to my knowledge either serving alcohol or plans to serve alcohol which is their prerogative, we don’t think that’s a good idea.

The federal mask mandate currently runs through September 13th. It was extended right before the CDC advised that in most settings vaccinated people wouldn’t need to wear masks indoors. Parker clearly doesn’t expect the mandate to get extended further (airlines had lobbied for the September 13 extension).

To my knowledge the plan to return alcohol service to coach at that time hasn’t previously been reported, nor has tying the continued removal of alcohol from coach to the mask mandate. Of course 76% of the 3000 passenger incidents reported to the FAA during the first 5 months of 2021 have been related to mask-wearing – a requirement that’s increasingly frustrating to passengers as the percentage of Americans who have either been vaccinated or who have immunity from prior infection rises to a supermajority of the country.

Update: American Airlines spokesperson Leah Rubertino reaches out “to clarify Doug’s comments” explaining that they won’t bring back alcohol before September 13 but that doesn’t mean they will bring it back at that time,

We haven’t established a specific date for the return of onboard alcohol in the main cabin of our aircraft, but we have committed that it will not return while the federal mask mandate is in place through Sept. 13

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. In 2016, 3 million deaths, or 5.3 percent of all global deaths (7.7 percent for men and 2.6 percent for women), were attributable to alcohol consumption.

    Globally, alcohol misuse was the seventh-leading risk factor for premature death and disability in 2016.

    According to a 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) report, among people ages 15 to 49, alcohol misuse was the first-leading risk factor for premature death and disability.

    In 2016, approximately 14 percent of total deaths among people ages 20 to 39 are alcohol attributable.

    etc., etc.,…

    So what does this mean? Well obviously, Let’s break out the booze! But be sure to wear those masks because COVID’ll get ya if ya don’t!!!!
    Wow. I’m thinking our priorities might need a little adjusting. I guess we can drink to that.

  2. In other words “alcohol combined with a silly rule causes problems, so the obvious solution is eliminating alcohol”.

  3. At this point, the mask *mandate* remains a silly, nonscientific rule that puts airline crews in the unreasonable position of having to confront passengers to enforce it.

    What’s the answer? Ban/limit alcohol sales in economy, of course, meanwhile virtually every airport is now an open-container free-for-all and more people than ever are bringing personal alcohol aboard.

    Rather than actually address the cause, let’s self-righteously tilt at windmills.

    Under current circumstances, the mask mandate is not defensible in any credible, scientific way, and if Sara Nelson actually cared about her dues-paying members (rather than cultivating a political future), she would advocate in favor of ending it.

  4. I think they should just ban/limit all white people since they’re all insurrectionists, horrible people and Trump supporters. The only exception to this would be if it can verified that they have publicly atoned for their skin color by giving 50% of their income to BLM as reparations AND completed a one month “period of shame”. Then we can allow them to fly…..but only in the last 3 rows of the airplane. Also, they’re not allowed to ask for anything and must board/deplane last.

  5. Alcohol just might take the edge off some of your passengers who have endured cancelled and delayed flights because of your operational failures and Vasu’s hyperaggressive dartboard strategy of adding new routes.
    Think it through, Dougie
    Maybe a swig might help keep some of these passengers as future AA customers.

  6. Maybe America. should worry about getting the scheduled flights off the ground and not about serving booze. Cancellation of 100’s of flights leaving people stranded should be against the law. Keep your booze. Get pilots for your planes

  7. So I guess he is acknowledging that forced mask-wearing on airplanes is a major cause of the major rise in violence and rage incidents that we’ve seen on flights over the past year? If that is not true then why not serve alcohol regardless.
    It’s time to end the mask mandate on planes it obviously doesn’t follow science at this point. April 2020=” airplanes are super safe, let us keep flying, HEPA, blah blah”, April 2021=”Airplanes are dangerous and we should wear masks on them forever”, June 2021=”You’ll only catch Covid if you fly without a mask on planes prior to September 13th, after that, it will all be fine and oh by the way have a drink”

  8. I’m tired of protecting the anti vaxxers on planes.. let natural selection take its course.

  9. So you can take your mask off to drink water/coke/etc. and that’s OK. But taking it off to drink alcohol suddenly spreads COVID? Sigh

  10. @Tim Dunn: I bet you would be saying just the opposite if it was DL who did the same thing around each of their previous long weekend meltdowns.

  11. Some petrified fliers need it to relax and not have a panic attack.! They even made a golden girls episode about it!!!

  12. @Tim Dunn,
    What about Southwest?

    With comments like “Alcohol just might take the edge off some of your passengers who have endured cancelled (sic) and delayed flights because of your operational failures and Vasu’s hyperaggressive dartboard strategy of adding new routes.
    Think it through, Dougie. Maybe a swig might help keep some of these passengers as future AA customers.” it’s no wonder some people accuse you of hoping American gets liquidated.

  13. At the time this was written the percentage of COVID vaccinated Americans was 46%, which is heartening but is not a supermajority.

    Who is providing access to the internal news video?

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