Summer Hull at The Points Guy argues that airlines shouldn’t serve alcohol on planes during the pandemic because alcohol tempts people to drink more than they would if they only had non-alcoholic beverages, which means less mask wearing.
If you’re drinking water, you’ll probably take a sip or two to rehydrate and then are done for a while and can put your mask back on. …Unless you’re in a beer-guzzling contest, however, the entire point of an adult beverage is usually to sip and enjoy it over time — which is exactly what some people are doing.
Coach cabins don’t have alcohol on domestic flights today. This is cost savings masked as Covid protection (eliminating cash sales). We haven’t seen greater virus spread in domestic first class cabins, and we don’t see virus spread from business class cocktails. Tomato juice doesn’t carry a greater risk of virus transmission when you add vodka. Indeed screwdrivers are good sources of vitamin D, which appears to be protective against Covid-19, or at a minimum against bad outcomes from it.
Another argument against inflight drinking – that Summer does not make – is that it creates a greater risk of bad behavior among passengers. But the risk of drinking too much during air travel is reduced with fewer venues open in airports to drink before flights. Drinking on planes always comes with some risk of drunk passengers behaving badly but that risk is actually lower now, with so many places closed it’s tough to pre-game.
While it’s possible to nurse a drink as an excuse not to wear a mask, someone looking not to wear one doesn’t need alcohol to do that. It’s just as easy to nurse a water or a can of pringles.
Indeed, here’s Senator Ted Cruz nursing a coffee without a mask.
If you do think that people are more likely to nurse a cocktail than a Starbucks, though, isn’t that just an argument for flight attendants offering shots?
Of course if we offered rapid testing – highly accurate, even if not to the extent of a PCR test but with results in 15 minutes – this would all be a non-issue since we’d be confident we weren’t traveling with others who had the virus. And with home strip tests, tied to an app, people could show their results daily and we’d be able to drink in bars, too. The primary obstacle to this isn’t technology, it’s the FDA.