Southwest Airlines Co LUV.N will resume alcohol sales on its flights this month after nearly two years, the Texas-based carrier has said, a pause that it extended last year due to a surge in in-flight disruptions by passengers.
In-Flight Services Suspension
US airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic had mostly suspended in-flight services on domestic flights to avoid having passengers remove their masks while eating or drinking.
Southwest, which had paused alcohol services in March of 2020 at the start of the pandemic, said that it will resume the sale of the beverages on 16 February.
Beverages Being Sold
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The beverages will include wine, vodka, tequila and rum on most of its flights of 176 miles (283.24 km) or more. The airline also said that it will add a new line-up of non-alcoholic beverages like tonic water, apple juice, Coke Zero, Dr. Pepper, hot tea, and hot cocoa.
Statement By Vice President Customer Experience And Customer Relations
"Customers have expressed a desire for more beverage options," vice president customer experience and customer relations Tony Roach said in a statement.
"Unsafe And Irresponsible"
The union, which represents Southwest Airlines' flight attendants, said that the move is "both unsafe and irresponsible."
Statement By President Of TWU Local 556
"TWU Local 556 is outraged at Southwest Airlines' resumption of alcohol sales," president of TWU Local 556 Lyn Montgomery said in a statement when contacted by Reuters. "We have adamantly and unequivocally informed management that resuming sales of alcohol while the mask mandate is in place has the great potential to increase customer non-compliance and misconduct issues."
No Immediate Response
Southwest did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on the union's statement.
Disruptive And Violent Incidents
Southwest's decision to extend the pause on alcohol services last year came following an incident where a passenger assaulted a flight attendant verbally and physically, during a flight from Sacramento to San Diego.
US airlines have reported a record number of disruptive and sometimes violent incidents in 2021, and the US Federal Aviation Administration has pledged a "zero-tolerance" approach towards unruly air passengers.