Flight Attendants Union Head Pushing For Federal Ban On Inflight Alcohol

There’s been an increase in inflight incidents. There are several reasons for this including a disproportionate share of leisure travelers and mask mandates that increasingly make little sense.

However there’s a push to blame alcohol even though most airlines haven’t been serving alcohol in the coach cabin. Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have pushed off their previously announced plans to bring back inflight alcohol.

Some people are looking to ban inflight alcohol altogether and are pushing for the federal government to get involved.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in a statement Tuesday that broader action on alcohol sales was needed to combat the problem.

“The incidents of violence on planes is out of control and alcohol is often a contributor. The federal government should provide guidance to airlines and airports on pausing alcohol sales for a period of time,” she said.

Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA flight attendants union head, likens mask mandates to smoking bans, TSA liquid rules, and requirements to turn off cell phones implying they should become permanent and wanted to make leisure travel illegal during the pandemic.

She’s rapidly becoming the ‘any outlandish government restriction’ version of Ryanair CEO Michael “if it puts me in front of a television camera I’ll say anything” O’Leary. Her suggestions are on par with his claims that he’ll make passengers stand and pay to use the lavatory, but raise her political profile. (She seemingly doesn’t realize by the way that these photos aren’t selfies and were paid for by her members.)

Nelson represents flight attendants at United Airlines, which has brought back alcohol sales, which means that her members actually have to do more work than their counterparts at American and Southwest.

The New York Times called her “America’s most powerful flight attendant” but her focus tends to be more on national issues rather than her members. Since she hasn’t managed to turn flight attendant positions at United into make work jobs she’s turning to the federal government to do it for her.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. […] Flight Attendants Union Head Pushing For Federal Ban On Inflight Alcohol. – I understand that some people are belligerent and act foolish while drinking. From what I’ve read, most of the time it is people getting drunk at airport bars rather than getting drunk on the plane. Flight attendants can always deny service to passengers if they feel that the passenger is drunk. Eliminating inflight alcohol for the rest of us doesn’t really solve the problem. […]


  1. Oh sure. Stick me in a tube, squished up against a total stranger. Take away my personal space. Design the seats to cause physical pain after 30 minutes. After all of that, you now refuse to serve me food or a drink of my choice.

    Talk about flying the friendly skies. Not.

  2. It’s so sadly & sorrowfully that ours great flights attendants sometimes are getting attacking by some unruly & disrespectful passengers? President Biden should create and sign a tougher law regarding those badly behaviors against ours hard professionals & charming working Flights Attendants from American,United,Delta, Spirit and others airlines. Thank C Lorenz

  3. I have a hard time figuring out which union is dislike more: The AFA (flight attendants) or the teacher’s unions (there are several). Both haven’t a clue about their “customers” (whether those are paying passengers, or parents and students). Neither has the slightest interest in the happiness, well-being, or success of their “customers”. Both are typically inhabited by overweight (or, more commonly obese) workers with lifetime job security who would rather sit and bitc* about how hard their lives are than do work.

    There is little or no indication that alcohol, especially one drink, played any role in almost any of these incidents. Most were attributable to the requirements to wear masks (which many people dislike, or intensely dislike) and the often poor demeanor of the FAs.

    Give me a break: not serving a drink (Hell, they don’t even serve a small bottle of water in economy now) will only further deplete the revenue of the airlines (they profited from food and beverage sales on flights) will not solve the problems in question.

    I’d love to see the whole lot of teachers and FAs unemployed, and then new, professionally-trained and customer-oriented (whether student/parent or paying passenger) people in their roles.

    Enough said.


  4. My flight was delayed in Milwaukee on time so I went to one of the restaurants for a drink, while there I encounter about three other people with delayed flights, I had a bloody mary and took my time but one couple who there before me were well on their way to being over served. If i was a flight attendant I would not be happy with drunk people getting on planes. I understand that people think that because there on vacation it’s ok but remember everyone on your flight isn’t and it can make for a very long flight for some people.

  5. The current incidents of fights and other bad behavior on airplanes have nothing to do with alcohol, but rather the demand that passengers MUST wear face masks and some ignorant people do not want to wear masks and they think it is their right to refuse to wear a mask! Truth be told, an airline has a right to make passengers wear a mask! Wear a mask or do not fly!

    Years ago I used to drink alcohol and when flying in coach you were limited to 2 drinks. In business it was a more liberal than 2 drinks, and in first class it was basically unlimited, I used to fly First Class and would start drinking sometimes even before I was secured in my seat! Then there was pre-meal drinks, wine or Vodka with appetizers, more wine, beer or liqueur with the main meal then finally a sweet liqueur with desert and if there was after desert cheese plate you could have a glass or two of port. In all my years of flying in the front of the plane, I never saw anyone make a disturbance! Trust me when I say people in first class drank enough to cause serious trouble! even though I no longer drink any alcohol (has to do with a medicine I take, doesn’t mix well with alcohol and puts you to sleep, so it’s been about 15 years since I had any alcohol of any kind. I do not think the serving of alcohol should be stopped. This is a big earner for the airlines, which means doing away with it means higher fares or higher fees! What might help is flight attendants actually limiting the posted amounts by class. Do not let anyone on the plane unless wearing a face mask. Do not allow a passenger to say, I’ll put it on when I get to my seat! Put it on or get off the plane!

  6. I love this article, and when the airlines announce they have to lay off 20% of their members as no Alcohol Revenue, and the fact that they won’t need as many Flight Attendants on the planes, this lady will be screaming blue murder.
    I do not fly United so I can’t comment if their flyers are worse than others, however a Million Miler with both American and Delta I have never seen or heard any passenger issues on my planes.
    I’m not silly enough to know that there aren’t any, but I’m sure the actual number of incidents compared to all the passengers flying are less than 0.1%.
    If that is the case then we need to ban people from driving cars (Far More Dangerous), and while we are at it we should ban all air travel as your chance of getting sick from traveling is far greater again.
    I hope this lady understands that when ever airline would have gone bust over the last 12 months if not for the help of the American Government AKA the people as our taxes were used to keep them flying and as many as possible in their jobs!!!

Comments are closed.