Southwest Will Start Serving Cocktail Mixers On Board, Without The Alcohol

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.

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, 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. I can’t believe they didn’t take the opportunity to market this as a service enhancement offering mocktails!

  2. Great, the mixes are a nice option. There is always a strong demand for Bloody Mary mix between me and my wife.

  3. Are they telling us to read between the lines with this announcement?
    No alcohol “served” on board, but we will serve mixers to do as you choose with them.

  4. What’s the point of an alcoholic beverage without the alcohol? When I was in Iraq and Afghanistan we couldn’t have booze out of respect to “host country customs”, but we were offered non-alcoholic alternatives like O’Doul’s – most of us told them to pound sand.

  5. Here in Hawaii SWA is referred to as that backpackers airline…they helped clog the islands with McTourists this summer. It was an odd summer for travel here with few international tourists and a lot of mainland bargain hunters. Sure glad Spirit doesn’t fly here!

  6. “..and inflight announcements are that passengers are to hold up a certain number of fingers to indicate their choice of beverage (rather than speaking)..”

    Excuse me, what? This is completely absurd.

  7. Not sure why you think Southwest hasn’t extended drink coupons. They officially announced that they have, thru 2022.

    Expired 2020 or 2021 Drink Coupons

    We’ve loved surprising our loyal Rapid Rewards Members with drink coupons after completion of 10 revenue flights.

    While these drink coupons are valid for 12 months from the date of issue, we recognize that Customers are not able to use them at this time since we have temporarily suspended alcohol service onboard all our flights.

    As such, we’re giving you more time to enjoy your complimentary drink. Due to the temporary suspension of our inflight alcoholic beverage service, any drink coupons set to expire in 2020 or 2021 will now be accepted through December 31, 2022. Please keep your original coupon(s) to redeem onboard once inflight beverage resumes. Cheers!


  8. @Ursine1 – that news came after this piece was written, and Southwest was explicit that they had not yet extended the coupons at that time. Great update though!

Comments are closed.