Illustration for article titled Airlines Have Been Banning Booze on Flights as a Covid-19 Precautionary Measure

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A basic measure to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus is to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and another person. But this becomes tricky in the tight quarters of a commercial aircraft, particularly for flight crew who may be required to make their way through aisles to service passengers.


In response, some major airline carriers have taken the measure of changing their service offerings in recent months to limit person-to-person interactions—and that includes in-flight booze. Most major U.S. airlines implemented some kind change to their inflight service during or prior to the height of the outbreak, and most contacted by Gizmodo on Tuesday said those precautionary changes were still in place. And that means if you’re planning to fly anytime soon, don’t expect the typical wine or beer service.

JetBlue Airways, for example, has been offering its customers in the main cabin pre-sealed bags that come with water and two snacks (though first-class customers are still permitted wine and beer service in single-serve containers). As of this week, the company said it had no plans to change that policy for the imminent future. Hawaiian Airlines likewise in March suspended alcoholic beverage sales in the main cabin and reduced drink offerings to those served in cans or bottles, a measure a spokesperson said was still in place “as part of a broader effort to reduce interactions onboard the aircraft.”


Allegiant Air said it too has reduced service to once per flight with additional precautionary measures in place, including requiring crew members to wear gloves while serving only pre-packaged and factory-sealed food and drinks. A relative outlier, the airline does still allow a selection of alcoholic beverages, a spokesperson said.

Both Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, have suspended their alcohol offerings across all cabins. Delta suspended alcohol on domestic and short-haul international flights in late March, and a spokesperson said this week that it has not announced a date for booze as of yet but said that its “teams are continuously evaluating.” After suspending all service on its flights in March, Southwest in late May began introducing modified service for things like water and snacks but said that alcohol remained banned on its flights. A spokesperson this week said the airline will reintroduce full service “once circumstances allow.”

American Airlines, meanwhile, one of the largest airlines in the world, said in April that it was “limiting food and drink service in the Main Cabin based on flight length and destination,” a policy that remains in place as of this July. Alaska Airlines is similarly modifying its offerings based on whether or not the fight exceeds 350 miles. Even on longer flights, though, alcohol will only be available to premium- and first-class customers, with no transaction purchases permitted in the main cabin.

So there are some workarounds, depending on which airline you’re flying with and which cabin you’re seated in. But for the most part, it’s probably safe to assume any immediate flights are going to be booze-free.


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