Flight Attendants Demand American Airlines Impose Two Drink Limit

Alcohol is about to return to American Airlines coach on Monday, and the carrier’s flight attendants union – the Association of Professional Flight Attendants – has demanded that a two drink limit be imposed on passengers.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents AA crew members, however, would like American to introduce a maximum inflight drink limit of two beverages per customer. The union has already presented its argument to the airline and management are currently reviewing the proposal.

Already flight attendants aren’t supposed to overserve passengers. What that means varies, among other things,

  • By passenger’s weight
  • By the drink they’ve selected (Bailey’s Irish Cream contains less than half the alcohol of whiskey)
  • By the length of the flight

A two drink limit in domestic first class would mean that if a passenger has a predeparture beverage (when flight attendants bother to offer one) that they might have a drink with their meal but would be refused a refill on flights like Dallas – Anchorage, Dallas – Honolulu, and Miami – Seattle.

A two drink limit certainly seems silly flying New York JFK – Doha, which launches in June, or worse Delhi – New York JFK which has a high likelihood of having to divert. Would the segment from Gander to New York JFK start the drink limit over?

I’ve generally only had more than two drinks while flying international first class, when there are special wines, champagnes, and spirits I’d like to try. That’s especially true on Emirates and Singapore Airlines, the latter where I might have a glass each of Dom Perignon and Krug and then move on to a French red or departing Australia a nice Shiraz. I’ve never had this issue on American Airlines, and wouldn’t likely have more than two drinks even flying long haul. I also haven’t found myself flying long haul coach since American used to fly to Sydney via Honolulu with a DC-10 (before I was old enough to drink). I imagine on a flight like that now I wouldn’t want to be sober.

Flight attendants already have both the authority and obligation to cut off passengers that have had too much to drink. The American Airlines flight attendants union wants the airline to impose an arbitrary rule that will lead to more conflict with passengers who are sober than it will reduce the frequency of passengers not being sober.

Of course the flight attendants union didn’t want to offer even a second non-alcoholic drink on longer domestic coach flights either, and the airline capitulated for a brief period this year.

I take this as posturing by the union for their own members while they’re in contract negotiations. It’s a weak union, and if they can appear to fight for things at the margin that makes them look less weak if they’re unable to deliver on things that matter to the membership.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. The sooner these union airwh*res are fired and we get back to normal the better. Power crazed sky-waitresses.

  2. I wonder if the people who are so pressed for liquor ever fly dry airlines? Just pass out two bottles to each passenger when they board and call it a day.

  3. You would think think the flight attendants union have more important issues such as payment for boarding, penalties for long waits for hotels on layovers, reducing numbers on reserve, inflight meals, and of cause increased wages with reduced working hours.

  4. Lazy! Crew! On a AA mia-bcn they moved everyone upfront and after dinner never walked through the cabin! AA crew from mad-dfw was way better and friendly to everyone, if I would’ve gotten a survey mia crew would’ve gotten 0’s. On United to Italy crew was 10 times better, the flight was great flight with a way friendlier crew.

  5. That’s fine, then assume then they would reduce the ticket price and maybe then the flights and then maybe the need for the jobs.

    A lot of risk for false advertising claims in all the marketing the airline publishes.

    Do the job you applied for….

  6. Compare with the FAs on airlines with a real F product (not fake AA “F”) who can’t wait to put yet another Dom in my hand…

  7. I’m also curious if the 2 drink limit is proposed to apply to first class? Do you have a copy of their argument? And John C’s comments are on the mark as well!

  8. Alcohol should be banned Nationwide for everyone like they do in the Muslim countries. Muslims have the right idea about a lot of things.

  9. Recently flew flagship biz SFO-JFK and already ran into this.

    Had the prosecco as a PDB and a mixed drink when they brought out nuts. During meal service I asked for a G&T which was accepted and later brought out by a different purser.

    Despite the order being brought out, this male purser was very clear that he didn’t want to serve me drink #3. I would have rather been refused than just chastised in front of the cabin by this power tripping FA.

    Based on his reaction and concerns over his escalation, I didn’t take a sip. So much for Flagship service on a $4k ticket..

  10. AA is the worst airline around quite frankly….I avoid them like the plague (or COVID??). Worst leadership team and cabin crew are flying nazis.

  11. I don’t know if 2 is the right number, but maybe depending on short haul/transcon/international there should be some kind of soft limit, or at least an expectation, like don’t expect more than one drink an hour. Of course if you’re already tipsy on the way in, less.

  12. My partner is an AA FA, and I can assure you all they do not care about this (at least the overwhelming majority of them). If anything, they’re happy to now have another tool in their tool shed to make passengers happier (e.g. booze).

    I don’t know who these miserable SOBs are described in the comments, but I have (luckily) not experienced being refused a third drink by an AA FA.

  13. Ivan – and I think you should be limited to three breaths of air an hour, OK? You keep your abstention garbage to yourself. Muslims and 18th Amendment folk can GFTS. This isn’t the Middle East, and the 21st passed.

  14. The whole object of limiting is to keep people from getting intoxicated. It is against the law for flight attendants to Serve intoxicated people and by offering them more you are attributing to the problem of getting them intoxicated . Almost all confrontations on airplanes besides the mask issue lately involve alcohol. People seem to forget that a lot of these people that bored have already drank In flight attendants don’t want the confrontation of dealing with A drunk

  15. Lory – your definition of intoxicated and mine are almost certainly different, and the flightdonkeys aren’t qualified to make the distinction. So be quiet, and keep your teetotal garbage to yourself.

  16. Lory, it comes with the job. Sobriety is a mathematical calculation between strength and volume of alcohol consumed to the weight of the person. How is an FA going to weigh me to know how two drinks will affect me? And who are AA FA’s to demand anything? They are employees hired to meet an FAA so-called safety requirement. In reality they are ancient, union protected, power drunk bunch of babysitters.

  17. Not only have I Never had a FA refuse, literally All have happily refilled. This 2-drink minimum is insane.

  18. I support the AA flight attendants in promoting the islamization of the United States. The most important thing is that we never allow women on a plane without forcing them to wear a mask. They’ve made a pretty good headway these past two years in retraining US women to wear masks whenever on a plane and eventually we want to force them to wear masks everywhere at all times as well.

    I like that they are finally moving on to alcohol. Limiting to two drinks a good first step to abolishing it as Allah commands us to. I wish they were more bold in skipping this middle step and just outright banning it altogether.

  19. “It’s a weak union”?

    AA flight attendants got away with doing almost no work for over two years by blaming Covid and even the surliest of them are basically un-fireable.

  20. When flying AA first class, I haven’t EVER had a flight attendant refuse a request for an alcoholic beverage, even on shorter flights. I think the key is to be friendly and respectful, and very clearly not intoxicated. Most of the AA flight attendants I’ve encountered are wonderful people. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule!

  21. This is insane! If AA management agrees to this, they already need a new CEO days after Isom took the helm. Get some backbone leaders!!

  22. When passengers start tipping their flight attendants adequately for adult beverage service, they may receive four or five extra adult beverages per flight.

  23. This is all about the mask rule being extended until May and the airline not extending the ban on alcohol rule with it. So alcohol resumes on April 28rh. Its protecting employees from the removal of masks while customers drink their way across the ocean. And to those who say , well they can do that anyway with a Diet Coke …..let’s just agree we know it’s not the same .

  24. There are a lot of hard working APFA members. Many have saved lives…

    And you call them weak…

    All over a drink…

    This says way MORE about you than it does about AA’s APFA unionized work force.

    You seem like the kind of guy who would whip out his phone and take video/pix while a flight attendant was being assaulted rather than getting involved and helping.

  25. Ken – no, tipping is for good service. And they’re paid more than a reasonable wage.

    But you e also just clearly demonstrated that they’re sky waitresses, and nothing more.

  26. I can tell you that probably 90-95% of passenger misconducts and ejections involve alcohol. If a person likes to drink and can behave, there is no issue. However, our passengers want to get to their destination. Some may have only a few days for a trip for which they’ve scrimped and saved, and it’s important to them. I have no intention of letting that be ruined by someone who thinks that his drunkenness and belligerence tops that vacation.

  27. Ha if anything I have found the opposite on longhaul AA premium cabin flights. I feel the FA’s are more than happy to serve especially after dinner on overnights so the passengers go to sleep!

  28. I can tell you that probably 90-95% of passenger misconducts and ejections involve alcohol. If a person likes to drink and can behave, there is no issue. However, our passengers want to get to their destination. Some may have only a few days for a trip for which they’ve scrimped and saved, and it’s important to them. I have no intention of letting that be ruined by someone who thinks that his drunkenness and belligerence tops that vacation.

  29. So you’ve blocked the comment of an airline captain who wishes to weigh in on the subject. Don’t blame my FA’s, blame the passengers who can’t control themselves in adult environments. You want to divert or be delayed for someone else’s dangerous behaviour? I’d rather protect you and your hard earned trip, and your chance to sample the wine. Come on, the air is FINE!

  30. Just because the idiots running our union propose this, doesn’t mean every FA agrees with it. It’s mostly the more senior FAs who lack the ability to execute proper judgement that want this. I certainly DO NOT want this limit imposed. Please email [redacted] and voice your opposition to this.

  31. A Flyer,
    not sure what was blocked but AA didn’t serve alcohol in coach for most of the pandemic and WN didn’t serve it all – and yet those two airlines ALONE had record numbers of passenger misbehavior so clearly alcohol served onboard isn’t the problem you want to think it is.

    The problem might well be that passengers can hide behind masks after they drink too much in the airport before boarding because they can’t get it onboard where flight attendants can keep it to a reasonable amount – which is NOT a hard number. two on a two hour or less flight is enough; up to 1 for every remaining hour of flight is also enough and should be the limit with no more than 4 even on a transcon or transoceanic flight.

  32. My $0.02…

    As a doctor I can attest that there is a legal definition of intoxication and a practical definition of intoxication and they are different. Some people can have one drink and be plowed, while others can have a few and feel little to no effect. Arbitrary limits are just that, arbitrary.

    The optics of this are terrible for the AA FAs, but I’m not sure the union leadership really cares. My sense is this is more about the union flexing its muscles over management. My second guess is that management will give in because they feel it’s a way to make the FAs feel like they have some power while AA refuses to address the real issues troubling the FAs.

    Now, for the abstinence people on here…if you don’t want to drink and think alcohol is bad, that’s your business but I will thank you very much to keep your opinions and your behaviors to yourself and leave the rest of us alone. I have been drinking on airlines for the past 30 years, have exceeded the two-drink limit many times and have NEVER been a problem to the crew or visibly intoxicated.

    This pushing of personal beliefs on everyone else has to stop.

  33. Tim Dunn, you are right about pax drinking in the airport before. I think it’s a big problem, that they order electronically and it’s served right at the gate; and I agree that people load up there because they can’t get more on the airplane. I assure you that I’m right about alcohol being involved in the vast majority of misconducts. It’s my decision to remove them and alcohol is nearly always involved.

  34. And everyone is different, I agree that a max number of drinks is an arbitrary number and certainly won’t work for everyone. I don’t think it’ll happen, either.

  35. A Flyer – you’re a power-crazed jerk. Fairly typical. Shut up and fly. I will absolutely blame “your” FA’s, as old, unattractive, ill-mannered, lazy, and unfit for their job.

    Rick – “many” of them have not saved lives, no. Many of them are in fact lazy sky-waitresses, with a sense of lazy entitlement.

  36. Fake news!!!!
    Ya’ll need to know – Gary Leff HATES AA. No idea where his beef originated, but 99% of his articles are meant to result in negative responses toward AA. This article is a perfect example. APFA has NOT presented a two drink limit proposal to the company. In fact, the first time they heard anything about this was from Mr. Leff’s posting spewing false information.

  37. I think Cindy is too busy kicking autistic children off of planes to even keep up with today’s installment of APFA’s ridiculous demands. AA flight attendants are the worst in the industry. Sure, Spirit’s are literally ghetto but at least they somewhat try…..and most of them don’t take themselves too seriously because…well….they can’t. Now that AA competes with Spirit…literally, I spend as much of my time and money as possible with Delta.

  38. I like the idea of some limit, since as many pointed out, I don’t know that flight attendants should be worried with determining whether they’re overserving passengers. And overserved passengers seem to be an increasing problem for airlines (and anecdotally, overserving seems to be happening more than pre-pandemic based on my observations). I certainly would like to see less overserving on flights since these passengers are a problem for the crew, safety of themselves, and other passengers.

    Now, I’m not sure a two drink limit is the right number, but I generally don’t find the idea of some limit (maybe based on distance, even if a crude measure) unappealing.

    Do I sometimes enjoy having a drink or two on the plane? Sure. But having that limited to two seems like a fairly minor trade-off for improving airline safety. I’m not sure its a gross infringement of my rights as a passenger. The disdain and view of FAs in this comments section is pretty gross, though (and no, I’m not one, I’m not friends with one, nor do I think I know a FA other than on a few routes I fly frequently).

  39. CJ – it’s an absolute infringement for some puritan POS like you to say my limit is two. You can GFYS along with the others here.

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