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Southwest Airlines announced that it is going to extend its ban on inflight alcohol at least until January 18, 2022. This move is tied to the extension of the federal mask mandate.

Randall Miller, who is the senior manager of inflight ops, initiative, and design, said in a memo that “With the mask mandate being extended to January 18, 2022, there are no current plans to bring back alcohol prior to January 2022”.

Southwest isn’t the only one that extended its ban on inflight booze. American Airlines made a similar move in August. However, American still serves alcohol in their first class. Southwest and American are the only two major carriers that continuously banned alcohol in their flights.

Flight attendants have two concerns with the return of alcohol on flights. One is that passengers will remove their masks when they are drinking alcohol. And two is that drunk passengers sometimes become violent.

Southwest is currently offering non-alcoholic drinks including Coke, Diet Coke, 7-Up, and water. For passengers to order, flight attendants flash a laminated card to passengers, and passengers will signal via their hand whether they want one, two, three, or four to signify their choice. This protocol prevents passengers from talking to get their order and for them to keep their masks on.

Unruly Passengers Drinking Booze on Flights

In May, Southwest initially had a plan to sell inflight alcohol by late June. Unfortunately, a high-profile incident occurred in late May where an unruly passenger attacked a flight attendant. The Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost two teeth in the process and suffered other injuries to the face. She had a cut under the left eye that required four stitches. Plus, her left eye was bruised along with her right arm. This made the airline decide to maintain its ban on inflight alcohol.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said that time “we have made the decision to pause the previously announced restart of alcohol service onboard”.

The FAA has already levied more than $1 million in fines against unruly passengers. Also, President Biden recently announced that unruly passengers will have to face steeper fines.

John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme is a Travel Analyst for The Jet Set. He writes about news and events affecting the travel industry.

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