United Airlines Flight Attendants Reminded To Scold Passengers Who Drink Their Own Booze Inflight

Southwest Airlines has a problem with passengers bringing their own booze on board. So too, it seems, does United Airlines.

Airlines aren’t serving alcoholic drinks to customers where they’d normally charge for booze, to reduce interactions between passengers and flight attendants. Sometimes they’re not even serving alcoholic beverages where they used to be free, as a cost saving measure.

There’s a reason why liquor stores were considered an ‘essential business’ during coronavirus lock downs, and that same impetus has people bringing booze with them now that they can’t get any on a plane. That’s an important point for anyone who thinks airlines shouldn’t serve alcohol on board, because it leads to bad behavior – it’s not the serving that causes the behavior, it’s the drinking, and despite rules against ‘bring your own’ that’s difficult to stop.

A new memo from the United Airlines flight attendants union to cabin crew underscores rules against customers pouring their own hooch.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the company to reconsider the services provided on the aircraft as a means of minimizing the touchpoints between Flight Attendants and passengers… These health precautions have curtailed several service options on many of our flights, including the offering of a variety of choices in alcoholic beverage options. With this reduction in service some passengers have developed a misunderstanding that, in place of what is offered for sale onboard, they can simply bring their own supply onboard.

United Polaris Wine Tasting Flight

American Airlines for its part has ‘noticed’ an increase in customers bringing their own alcohol, too. I certainly understand relaxing with a glass of something at the end of the business week or getting into the vacation vibe on the way to Las Vegas or Cabo. However there’s almost no business travel to return from on Thursdays, and it shouldn’t be some hard to observe prohibition on short haul flights. Then again that’s what proponents of the 18th amendment to the constitution thought, and it gave rise to Al Capone.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 »

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  1. Is this only in coach? I flew UA2345 from DEN TO MCO in F the other day and flight attendants were quite generous in handing out alcoholic drinks.

  2. People are going to do what THEY want to do. Most people I know are sick and tired of the government as well as businesses telling them what to do.

  3. To be clear, It’s not illegal to bring your own onboard, but you’re not allowed to pour it. Some airlines (or FA’s) will pour it for you or allow you to and turn a blind eye. But this is my 7th leg of travel on United in the last four weeks and I’ve been served alcohol on every leg. No issues.

  4. How did these passengers get the liquor threw the TSA check point? No liquid over 4oz is allowed past security.

  5. @ Carissa – mini bottles are well under the 4oz limit. Also, although I havent flown in a month i imagine it could be purchased in the airport past security.

  6. Can we please arm flight attendants with guns and have them shoot anyone drinking their own alcohol onboard?

  7. There are solutions but you need to penalize the passengers severely. Give one warning, then take their name and ban them from further flights for a year or whatever.

    And when you are constantly getting rid of FAs, lowering pay, cutting hours, whatever, do you honestly think most care? I sure wouldn’t. I mean if you as a business have to make cuts, and you might, you must also realize that is not going to give you happy employees who will do anything more than the minimum.

    I can tell you if someone cut my pay, benefits, etc. I can assure you my production will drop, and I’ll be looking to abandon ship ASAP. Thankfully I’ve mostly avoided that crap or when I saw it was likely to happen, I jumped ship to some place doing well.

    Back to the story, simply scolding people over and over isn’t going to work. You need a stick at times as well. And some of these passengers are likely already partly wasted from drinking prior to getting on board, or medicated in other ways.

  8. I have a colleague who told me her secret. Fill up a water bottle with booze at a lounge with self-serve alcohol. That way, you have something to drink the whole flight. You’ll need to an opaque bottle though, or if you only have a clear bottle, fill up with white wine so as to not attract attention. It was at the exact moment she told me that I realized she was an alcoholic.

    I miss business travel.

  9. Careful, three bird strikes and you’re out, no fowl balls. Don’t you know that’s ill eagle? These delays are a great birden on the passengers I would think. How unpheasant it must be to have to take off and land twice without reaching your destination. I would go stork raven mad. Do you think they’ll get out on the next try? It seems like a bit of ostrich.

  10. It’s not that big of a deal. To each it own. They want to control everything single little thing. Just unnecessary.

  11. As long as you aren’t falling over drunk, at this point it’s not a problem. They should be happy that they have customers flying. Scolding them will just make people hate your company, don’t do it. We are all adults and can assume our own risks, you are not our parents, so stop. There are already enough measures available to handle the extreme drunks, just fly to Vegas in the morning flights. More than half of the passengers are drinking.

  12. What the hell is wrong with you people that you cannot go a few hours without a drink? You don’t NEED to drink; you WANT to drink. And that very selfish perspective is precisely what is screwing up this country sf during this pandemic. Grow the hell up.

  13. You really need alcohol for a few hrs flt ?
    Can you drink before to bord the plane or after, because if you really need to drink I think you have a problem and you need to go AAA ,

  14. JetBlue actually encourages passengers to bring their own booze provided flight attendants pour it for them. Egypt’s airline too.

  15. There are no mini bottles on board. When I flew decades for Delta, the flight attendant’s took them all for their layovers..

  16. AAA is the American automobile association. Did you perhaps mean AA? Flying these days can get downright depressing. So what if people bring there own drinks. I’d be willing to bet they bought it in the duty free shop. Maybe right next to the gate.

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