American Airlines Won’t Serve Alcohol To Coach Passengers Because They’re Too Unruly

Southwest Airlines was first to delay its planned return of alcohol to flights, blaming the bad apple passengers who have been behaving badly without drinking alcohol I should point out.

Now American Airlines has decided to put off its return to offering alcohol in economy on domestic flights until at least September 13th, which is when the federal mask mandate currently runs through. Alcohol was supposed to return to coach on Tuesday.

“Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft. Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews,” Vice President of Flight Service Brady Byrnes said in the memo. “While we appreciate that customers and crewmembers are eager to return to ‘normal,’ we will move cautiously and deliberately when restoring pre-COVID practices.”

Alcohol service was initially dropped because something something coronavirus risk as though tomato juice suddenly became a vector of virus spread when vodka was added. The elimination of service continued because of preferences of the flight attendant’s union, perhaps Jerry Glass thought giving them less work to do would mean fewer concessions at the bargaining table.

Delta, Alaska, Allegiant, and Spirit all make alcohol available in economy. United still intends to bring it back June 1. Ironically United’s flight attendants are represented by Sara Nelson, who has been exceptionally vocal on this issue, and so far ‘the most powerful flight attendant’ has had less influence than counterparts at Southwest and American.

American, which has served alcohol in first class throughout the pandemic, is also delaying the return of predeparture beverages in first class. Surely a glass of juice prior to takeoff isn’t a safety risk?

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. Should have never been discontinued in the first place. But what do you expect from an industry that is run by idiots who don’t have half a brain cell?

  2. Is Jerry Glass an American employee? Does he work on a commission based on the amount of concessions he can get from the unions?

  3. @Brian: Perhaps airline executives flying in first-class had a preexisting medical condition of losing the other one-half of their brain cell from consuming excessive adult beverages before COVID drink restrictions.

    After reading Gary’s article, it is acceptable to be a disgruntled American Airlines passenger as long as you are willing to pay more for a first-class ticket and do not become unruly in the air.

  4. Inept management/ super lazy flight attendants.
    I fly European & Asian airlines, all business or first.
    Their service + product (hard & soft) blows US carriers away…not even close.

  5. No alcohol, no drinks or meals in coach…won’t help with bags…just put 1 security guard on every flight and 2 pilots at this point if you want to cut costs.

  6. I can’t decide if I care or not. One thing I will say, I’m not sure I need an airline or it’s staff to be my mother/overlord. Of course, as far as I know, I’ve never gotten into an altercation on an aircraft either.

  7. Does AA even serve pre-departure champagne in Flagship Business international flights anymore or did they stop in the name of Covid?

  8. I flew this week on American and it was a miserable experience. It is not just American that created a horrible, stressful experience for their customers. All airlines are doing it. Two things. Number one … seats are too small and too close together. Put a hundred rats in a small box and see how many get violent. Number two and most important and time saving, meaning money maker for airlines. LOAD THE PLANE FROM BACK TO FRONT. Faster and those passengers who paid lots more for the front seats don’t want someone’s ass in their face for the extra 20 to 30 minutes it takes to board the plane. I freely admit I am old enough to remember when there was a feeling of adventure and joy when going for a plane ride. Now there is just stress and misery. Please share and repost this everywhere.

  9. Typical of them to emulate the winged-greyhound that WN is. Of course, the booze has been flowing on NK since the beginning…oh but the fighting…..Do you think that problems on Spirit planes are caused by $11 onboard drinks….of course they’re not. Their passengers show up drunk, high, crazy etc….they’re already ghetto and think nothing of engaging in hood theatrics…ordering a bud light for a higher price than their ticket does nothing to change that. This is just more unions protecting their members (jumpseat warmers) from working.

  10. The shareholders must be disappointed – alcohol sales brings in additional revenue. Wait, instead of that is better to ask the government for another bailout!

  11. The above posts ignore the larger issue of pre-gaming in airport bars, no evidence that zero alcohol in flight bev servivice contributed to anyone being overserved on a plane when no alcohol was available onboard in main cabin.
    The mask/ no mask schtick , now a relic,is entertaining only if you are nostalgically entertained by the old Miller Lite “Tastes great /less filling” TV ads from the 80’s.

    These actions are are a result of Union reps, building a strawman , which unwittiing CEO’s fail to comprehehend, cater to a wannabe elected union official & downgrade the experience of their best customers, who 99.9% of which have acted responsibility since the origin of commerial aviation

  12. 99.99% of flyers don’t cause this problem. They are using this excuse to cut costs, pure and simple.

  13. @CHRIS “jumpseat warmers” sums up AA’s FAs perfectly. They are literally useless (and I’m not sure what they do besides check their phone, tiktok maybe? And gossip about their “terrible” job).

  14. @A: Besides checking their phone, TikTok, and gossiping about their terrible job, the American Airlines “jumpseat warmers” are there to help evacuate all passengers from the aircraft in 90 seconds or less, even when there is fire, smoke, or toxic fumes.

    Many people may disagree, but I believe flight attendants should never be the corporate punching bag for disgruntled customers.

  15. AA is on a downward spiral. Only first and business class passengers can get a drink while other paying passengers can’t. SWA of course is going down also. It looks like I’ll be giving my business to United (if they are approved to sell booze on or after June 1), Delta, Alaska and a few more of the carriers that say okay for drinks on board…unless some other carrier pleads not to give or sell drinks. How about having a boycott of AA and SWA?

  16. Drunk or sober (and if a couple drinks on the plane cause you to get violent, you’ve got a real problem) if some clown gets violent on a plane, the answer is arrest, conviction, months, not days in jail and fines in the thousands of dollars, along with a ban from future flights. Repeat as needed. Guaranteed punishment that really hurts is what will stop this crap.

  17. Bill Dwyer has stated it perfectly! Instead of wasting billions talking about a useless vaccination passport, our fearless leaders should be hiring Air Marshalls and buying more flexi-cuffs. Guaranteed punishment is the only thing that will deflect this country’s ever-increasing problem dealing with people who are more like animals.

  18. Bill Dwyer for President.


    Best response ever. Solve the problem by taking away the specific cause.

  19. @DWYER
    Yeah but but but punishment is now rayyyyycisss…..unless you’re one of 75M people who actually work for a living and voted for Trump.

  20. I have not read that these incidents were caused by alcohol. Makea me mad, I am about to take an 8 hour AA flight and I enjoy a glass of wine with my meal – or just by itself. People who cause these problems should be on the no fly list and the rest of us should not be punished.

  21. @EspecialRob. If you need liquor to function, you’ve got a problem and I suggest you get help.

  22. I just flew from Dallas / Ft. Worth texas on American Airlines. What a huge disappointment. I’ll never fly with them again. Because someone pays more for first class……. Makes them less likely to cause a issue? I have seen more issues from first class than anywhere. Entitled people ya know. On top of that, we had a movie for a 2.5 hour flight from DFW to LAX, but nothing on a 5 hour flight from LAX to Maui…….. makes sense to me. American Airlines used to be top of the line company, now they are definitely on the bottom.

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