Flying on American Airlines or Southwest and want to relax with an alcoholic beverage? Don’t plan on sipping one in economy any time soon. Following a recent spike in unruly passenger behavior, American Airlines announced that they will be pausing alcoholic beverage sales in coach class until September 13, which is also the day that the federal mask mandate on public transportation expires. 

American Airlines will continue to serve alcoholic beverages in the first-class cabin. 

A glass of champagne on an airplane tray table

Southwest had planned to resume in-flight alcoholic beverages sales on June 24, however, following an incident in which a passenger assaulted a flight attendant, the airline has decided to postpone alcohol sales indefinitely.  

Southwest explained in a statement, “Given the recent uptick in industry-wide incidents of passenger disruptions inflight, we have made the decision to pause the previously announced re-start of alcohol service onboard June (Hawaii flights) and July. We will proceed with expanding our selection of soft drinks and coffee as planned. We realize this decision may be disappointing for some Customers, but we feel this is the right decision at this time in the interest of the Safety and comfort of all Customers and Crew onboard.”

Disruptive passenger behavior has significantly increased this year. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received 2,500 reports of unruly passenger behavior so far in 2021, which is more than 20 times higher than what’s normally reported in an entire year, according to CNBC. The majority of the complaints (1,900) have been a result of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate. 

The FAA is handing down some serious financial penalties for bad inflight behavior. A recently released memo details five proposed punishments around recent incidents, including fines of $15,000. Don't even think about bringing your own alcohol onboard to serve yourself— one of those hefty fines is being levied against a passenger who consumed his own alcohol twice during a flight after flight attendants warned him it was not allowed.

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