American Airlines to Resume Alcohol Service in April

by Suzanne Halliburton
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

American Airlines will begin selling alcohol on its flights again, another sign that post-pandemic normalcy is returning to the country.

So if you’ve got an upcoming trip planned, circle this date — April 18. That’s when American Airlines’ alcohol service will restart. (That’s also the date your taxes are due, so it won’t be just airline passengers needing an adult beverage).

You can thank disruptive passengers for the alcohol ban lingering so long. American delayed its drinking decision by a year. CNBC said it was because there were too many unruly passengers causing a scene or attacking the flight crew to bring back beer, wine and hard liquor.

How unruly were the passengers? The Federal Aviation Administration received almost 6,000 reports of passengers of misbehaving passengers. The FAA said about 4,800 of those cases were passengers who refused to wear a mask. The FAA adopted a zero-tolerance policy for these refusals.

American Is Last Major Carrier to Bring Back Booze

American Airlines is the last major U.S. carrier to restart its alcohol service. Southwest Airlines also had delayed serving alcoholic beverages. But Southwest began serving cocktails again last month.

There is one requirement for the sales. The flight needs to be longer than 250 miles. American already was serving free liquor to first-class passengers and those on long-haul international flights.

There’s also more good news. CNBC reports that American isn’t raising prices for alcohol. It’s $9 for liquor and wine. Beer costs $8. Those are pre-pandemic prices.

And if your flight is long enough, American also will serve you food. It needs to be at least 1,500 miles. The airline will start with almonds and chips. Airline officials said American will begin a touchless ordering system later this year. Last month, American and Delta started serving hot meals to passengers sitting in first class.

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Reuters reported that domestic airlines carried 670.4 million passengers in 2021. That was an 83 percent jump over 2020. But it still was down from pre-pandemic levels.

Airline passengers also should know by April 18 about whether masks will be required. Although Covid cases are going down, the Transportation Security Administration extended the federal mask mandate last week. The mandate is through April 18th. And there was speculation that the mandate will end before then. The extra month was to make sure the Covid cases still were going down.

But in the meantime, passengers on planes, trains and buses still have to wear face coverings. So do people who are inside at airports or train stations.

In a statement, the CDC said it would be coordinating with federal agencies over the next month. The CDC will “help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor.”

The CDC said it would study national data and the science on new cases within communities as well as science on new variants.