Airlines have stopped serving alcohol in coach (and in some cases first class) both as a cost saving measure and to limit interaction between passengers and flight attendants. They don’t want to have flight attendants processing purchase transactions (but some carriers also got rid of alcohol for passengers who would have been entitled to their drinks free).
Southwest Airlines – along with other carriers – has noticed an increase in passengers treating flights as ‘BYO’ and drinking their own mini bottles they bring through security while on board. As a result, the largest carrier of U.S. domestic passengers is introducing an addition to its inflight safety announcement about the practice.
After passengers are reminded about no smoking, using electronic cigarettes or tampering with the smoke detector in the lavatory, flight attendants will announce: “It is also prohibited to consume alcohol that you’ve brought.”
Kriesel’s memo attributed the increase in passengers bringing their own alcoholic drinks on board to the lack of in-flight drink sales and availability of alcohol in airports during the pandemic.
…”While there is information on Southwest.com and announcements are made in the gate area, some customers may not know about this regulation that prohibits them from consuming their own alcohol,” Kriesel said in the memo.
This isn’t actually a new problem, a Southwest Airlines flight had to divert when passengers refused crewmember instrustrions to stop drinking their own booze.
At the Austin airport, and at several other airports, you can get beer to go during normal times. Of course there are far fewer concessions open right now. So instead of buying the beer to go in the airport passengers are bringing their own mini bottles from home.
Alcohol usually has a lot to do with passengers behaving badly stories and the stories about passengers bringing their own never end well. And pseudo-celebrities aren’t exempt. Usually passengers are more discrete than this, carrying a giant beer through Washington Dulles:
But Southwest Airlines not serving booze at all – that just underscores the damage the pandemic has caused. Southwest Airlines started giving out ‘to go’ bottles to full fare customers just prior to airline deregulation when they had to start competing with Texas International Airlines and Braniff who were newly allowed to offer cheap fares between Houston and Dellas. Southwest became the largest liquor distributor in Texas in 1977.
For many years Southwest Airlines offered free drinks inflight to all customers. They cut that back to offering free drinks only during key business travel times. And then in 1988 they eliminated free alcohol from their flights, but started giving coupons to frequent flyers. Booze may be part of the airline’s DNA, stemming from Wild Turkey-drinking co-founder Herb Kelleher, but customers can’t get any on board today – and can’t even drink their own.