Airlines around the world “are suspending all or part of their alcoholic drinks service in response to Covid-19.” But how on earth is this a response to COVID-19?
I asked how alcohol bans have any relation to COVID-19 whatsoever the other day on twitter and the best answer I got was about how such bans on the ground could matter. We don’t want people congregating at bars, and when people drink they get closer to each other and may be less likely to social distance. But that tells us nothing about how limiting alcohol inflight might relate in any way to reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Eliminating drink service entirely encourages social distancing between flight attendants and passengers, but where airlines continue to offer drinks what’s the difference between offering tomato juice and offering that tomato juice with vodka? Does the virus spread less effectively through alcohol on longer flights where alcohol may still be offered, or in premium cabins?
Just like eliminating on board food is as much about cost-cutting as social distancing, eliminating alcohol is a cost-savings measure. It’s fine for airlines to reduce their service in light of significantly reduced revenue – it’s a business strategy that may or may not work out for them – but we shouldn’t simply nod and accept the line that this is “because of coronavirus.”
It’s too close to the Hilton hotel that blamed a room service delivery taking more than an hour and a half on 9/11, in 2004 or 2005. Apparently the downtown after 9/11 caused the hotel to reduce staff, and they never scaled back up completely. Saying then that an inability to offer prompt room service years later “because of 9/11” was sort of true, from a certain point of view. The downturn in the airline business because of the novel coronavirus now means that any cost-cut is “because of the virus.”
What am I missing?