Southwest Airlines isn’t serving alcohol at all on is planes. American Airlines won’t serve alcohol in coach. Both carriers have held off the return of booze until the federal transportation mask mandate ends. Three quarters of inflight passenger incidents reported to the FAA have been over masks, though clearly not caused by alcohol since those airlines haven’t been serving it on board. Although American Airlines has gone a step further and has been trying to ban alcohol sales ‘to go’ in airports.
With the extension of the mask mandate into January 2022, Southwest Airlines told employees that it’s not bringing back alcohol this year.
“With the mask mandate being extended to January 18, 2022, there are no current plans to bring back alcohol prior to January 2022,” Randall Miller, senior manager of inflight ops, initiatives and design said in the memo.
…”With our original timeline to return alcohol service, we needed to proactively source seltzer and tonic water to ensure availability,” Miller said in the memo. “Due to the longer lead times to produce product and other supply constraints we’ve experienced, when our original plans changed, we still had an obligation to these suppliers.”
I reached out to Southwest to ask them about whether they’re extending free drink coupons with 2020 and 2021 expiration dates since passengers haven’t been able to use them. They confirm that they have not extended expiring drink coupons even though they haven’t served drinks on board in a year and a half. Hopefully that will change.
While alcohol won’t be served on board, mixers will be as a standalone starting next month because the airline had planned to bring back cocktail service and had to order things like seltzer water and tonic water along with cranberry cocktail juice, orange juice, and ginger ale. These will be added to the current lineup of Coke, Diet Coke, water and 7-Up.
While ostensibly current service is canned water on my Southwest flights it’s been given to me in a cup with ice. And inflight announcements are that passengers are to hold up a certain number of fingers to indicate their choice of beverage (rather than speaking) in practice almost nobody does this and most flight attendants don’t hold up the card to request it either. Menu cards will return to seat backs with drink choices next month as well.