Southwest Airlines to start selling liquor on flights again

Southwest Airlines aircrafts are seen at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on December 22, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 22: Southwest Airlines aircrafts are seen at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on December 22, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines will resume alcohol sales on most of its flights this month after suspending their sale in March 2020.

Beer, wine, rum, tequila and vodka will be offered again starting on Feb. 16 on flights that are at least 176 miles long.

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Southwest Airlines will also be adding more non-alcoholic beverages to its list of options, including tonic water, apple juice, Coke Zero, Dr. Pepper, hot tea and hot cocoa.

"Customers have expressed a desire for more beverage options, so we're delighted to restore additional on-board offerings as a part of the Southwest hospitality that our customers know and love," Tony Roach, vice president of Southwest customer experience and customer relations, said in the news release.

All U.S. airlines stopped onboard service since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but food and other beverage services are beginning to make a comeback on flights.

United Airlines resumed liquor sales in November. While Delta Air Lines resumed serving beer and wine to First Class and Delta Comfort+ customers on domestic flights in July 2020, and then started offering alcohol sales to passengers in the main cabin on some domestic flights in April 2021.

American Airlines has yet to resume alcohol sales, and told CNN that it has not set a date for the return of alcohol in its main cabin.

Southwest Airlines' 16,000-member flight attendants’ union, TWU Local 556, said that resuming the sale of alcohol on flights is “unsafe and irresponsible” amid the ongoing pandemic.

“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,” Lyn Montgomery, president of Southwest flight attendants’ union, said.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed a total of $161,823 in fines against passengers involved in alcohol-related incidents in November. The FAA said that 2021 was the worst on record for unruly passenger behavior, with 5,981 reports of unruly passengers. Almost 72% of those reports, or 4,290 passengers, were involved in mask-related incidents.

The FAA announced a "zero-tolerance" policy for unruly passenger behavior in early 2021. The policy skips warnings or counseling, and goes directly to penalties, including heavy fines and potential jail time.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images