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