American Airlines to resume selling alcohol on flights April 18

An American Airlines flight attendant serves drinks to passengers after taking off from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas.

Robert Alexander | Photo archive | Getty Images

American Airlines said Thursday it will resume selling alcoholic beverages on domestic and short-haul international flights next month. This plan was shelved nearly a year ago due to a surge in unruly passengers and attacks on crew members.

Airlines stopped selling alcohol and suspended food sales and service in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and travel demand plummeted. Over the past year, carriers have steadily returned many of these services as travelers returned in droves.

American is the latest major U.S. carrier to bring back sales of beer, wine and spirits, which it will sell in the cabins of its domestic buses from April 18, when the current federal mask mandate expires. It’s unclear whether the Biden administration will extend or remove this requirement. Southwest Airlines resumed selling alcohol last month.

Drunkenness and controversy over mandatory mask-wearing have contributed to unruly behavior on flights, according to flight attendant unions.

The sale will be available on US flights over 250 miles. Alcoholic beverages are free on American Airlines long haul international flights and in first class, as on other major airlines.

Last May, American and Southwest abandoned plans to start selling alcohol again after a surge in passenger numbers and attacks on crew members, including a Southwest traveler who hit a flight attendant.

The American does not increase prices compared to what it was before the pandemic, a spokeswoman told CNBC. Spirits such as the new aviation gin, rum, vodka and whiskey will cost $9. A serving of wine also costs $9. Beer costs $8.

American Airlines is also returning inflight meals, which will start with flights over 1,500 miles, about three and a half hours, starting with chips and almonds. The airline says it will begin offering contactless bookings later this year.

Last month, American and Delta Air Lines announced the return of hot meals to first class on many domestic flights.

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