America is the new major U.S. carrier to announce the resumption of alcohol sales. Early in the pandemic, it ceased selling alcohol and halted other onboard culinary services.
American Airlines announced on Thursday that it would resume selling alcoholic beverages on domestic and short-haul international flights next month, following a suspension of nearly a year due to an increase in rowdy passengers and staff member attacks.
When the pandemic started in March 2020 and travel demand plummeted, airlines stopped selling alcohol and paused food sales and service. As tourists returned in droves, carriers have been steadily restoring many of those services over the last year.
American is the last major U.S. carrier to reinstate beer, wine, and spirits sales in domestic coach cabins, which will begin on April 18, when the current federal mask rule expires. It’s unclear if the Biden administration will keep the law or cancel it. Last month, Southwest Airlines resumed alcohol sales.
According to flight attendant unions, unruly behaviour on flights has been attributed to drinking and disagreements over the mask mandate.
On American flights of more than 250 miles, sales will be accessible. As with other major airlines, alcoholic beverages are complimentary on American’s long-haul foreign flights and first-class.
After a spike in disruptive passengers and attacks on personnel, including a Southwest passenger punching a flight attendant, American and Southwest cancelled plans to reintroduce alcohol sales in May.
A spokesman for America told CNBC that the company is not raising pricing compared to before the pandemic. Spirits like the newcomer Aviation pay $9 for gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey. Servings of wine are also $9, and the cost of a beer is $8.
American is also bringing back buy-on-board food, which will begin with chips and almonds on flights longer than 1,500 miles, or approximately three and a half hours. Touchless ordering will be available later this year, according to the airline.
Last month, American and Delta Air Lines said that hot meals would be available in first class on many domestic flights.