American Airlines Resumes Alcohol Sales — Americans (Likely) Resume Unruly Behavior

Starting April 18, in conjunction with the end of the federal mask mandate, American Airlines will resume inflight alcohol service onboard domestic and short-haul international flights, making it the last major US carrier to do so.

“Our customers have expressed that having these options onboard is important to their experience with us,” the airline said in a statement.

But while those who enjoy the occasional inflight libation (present company included) will rejoice, the decision to make alcohol readily available on board given the current climate still feels…unwise. Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) logged 5,981 reports of unruly passengers. As of March 14, there have been 889 reports of a similar nature on the year.

Little more than a month ago, an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, made a rapid emergency landing in Kansas City after an unruly passenger tried to break into the cockpit and open an exit door mid-flight. About a week after that, a man on a Southwest flight from Dallas to Burbank was arrested for urinating on the floor outside of the bathroom. That flight, too, was diverted after the passenger grew hostile towards flight attendants. This week, a Colorado-bound flight from Alabama was also entertained after a presumably inebriated woman became riotous, demanding more alcohol and refusing to wear a mask.

All of this to say: reports of unruly passengers are still coming in at too high of a frequency to be introducing booze into the equation.

Of course, it is worth noting that, of the 889 reports filed this year, 587 of them were related to face masks, which — assuming the mask mandate actually does expire on April 18 — will no longer be a contending factor moving forward. It could also be argued the consumption of alcohol isn’t explicitly indicated in every instance of unruly behavior. But, all of that said, it’s still been a turbulent year and a half in the skies — and we don’t mean of the atmospheric variety. From that vantage point, it stands to reason that incorporating liquor into an already chaotic environment won’t bode well for anyone.

With flight attendants routinely speaking out in opposition of alcohol sales on short flights, American’s decision will no doubt open the airline up to questions surrounding passenger and flight attendant safety. Masks might be soon going away but the types of people perpetrating these incidents likely are not.

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