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.