In the spring American Airlines started offering free alcoholic beverages to passengers seated in their extra legroom Main Cabin Extra seats, copying Delta (although Delta offers snacks too). American’s flight attendants have expressed frustration.
- They’ll say they’re concerned about customers drinking too much
- But the real concern appears to be having to do more work
Free drinks on board isn’t new. Main Cabin Extra coach passengers will never be served as many drinks as first class passengers because flight attendants are covering the entire coach cabin. On longer flights there may be a second drink pass. Otherwise passengers have to call over a flight attendant and ask for more.
Ringing the call button is something many US airline passengers are afraid to do. They’ve learned flight attendants don’t like it. And often drink requests are simply forgotten. So the idea that free drinks in Main Cabin Extra somehow creates a greater risk of overserving passengers than what airlines have managed in first class for decades is somewhat silly.
However it came up again at this past week’s employee Crew News question and answer session. A flight attendant asked the airline’s CEO Doug Parker about customers who “drink, drink, drink” and “come back to the galley and ask for more.” She says she feels like she “has to lie” to customers that might drink too much. And she thinks the airline needs to revisit its policy of free drinks.
Since the flight attendant asks about this not just on domestic flights but also international, Parker asks his team “internationally, is this a new program?” And American’s Vice President of Inflight says no, “it’s been a few years” and both domestically and internationally they were “later to adopt the program” and were following competitors.
Reading through my Facebook feed I see American Airlines passengers being told all the time that they aren’t allowed to have complimentary free drinks in Main Cabin Extra, despite American Airlines policy.
- One customer asks, “Are the free [Main Cabin Extra] drinks limited to just 1? [Flight attendant] was charging for additional ones. ..I was only able to get one more drink [anyway] since I lost my aisle seat and ended up in window.”
- Another believes that the Main Cabin Extra policy is “1 and done” because that’s what flight attendants say, though they “haven’t been charged yet, [flight attendants] just remind you.”
- A third shares that they were flying San Francisco – Charlotte last week and they asked for a second drink. They were told they had to buy it. Upon pushing back the flight attendant agreed to comp the second drink as a one time exception.
American may be trying to match Delta drink-for-drink in extra legroom coach, but some of their flight attendants have different ideas.