Flights are back, but drinks in flight are limited. Sorry for the uneasy passengers.
The solution of travel restrictions and the availability of vaccines means that travel, especially air travel, is rising towards pre-pandemic heights. Along with these crowds, however, come reports of drunk and unruly passengers, which has led some airlines to ban alcohol during flights.
Last week, a high-profile incident on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego got national attention when video emerged of a fight between a passenger and a companion.
The passenger, identified by the San Diego Harbor Police as Vyvianna Quinonez, is seen throwing several blows at a female flight attendant before another passenger steps in between them to break it up. According to the air traffic controllers’ union, the attendant lost two teeth in the incident, Reports USA Today. Quinonez, the unruly passenger, was charged with battery causing serious bodily harm, a crime.
Airlines cut down on drinks and meals during the flight during the pandemic as a way to minimize the times people revealed their faces; Recently, some airlines, such as Delta, have returned to serve complete hot meals and beverages.
Southwest took a more conservative route and had planned to reintroduce alcohol by the end of June. Following last week’s incident as well as reports of general passenger irregularities, Southwest suspends alcohol sales through June and July, travel site The Points Guy reports.
Over the weekend, American Airlines joined Southwest and refused to serve alcohol in flight in some of its cabins. Like other airlines, American had suspended alcohol service in March last year to minimize customer interactions. American had reintroduced alcohol service on May 1 to the premium cabins, and liquor sales were to resume in the economy section on June 1. After the southwestern incident, American wants to extend its alcohol ban in the economics section through Sept. 13, CNN reports.
Prohibition of in-flight alcohol service, however, cannot lead to quarrels with warring passengers.
The FAA has released details of several altercations involving passengers carrying their own alcoholic beverages on board and continuing to drink despite requests not to do so.
Two passengers on a JetBlue flight on January 4 were disruptive and allegedly drank their own alcohol, leading to quarrels with companions. They were escorted off the plane by police and fined $ 31,750 and $ 16,750. A passenger on a Jan. 14 SkyWest flight from Arizona to Texas also reportedly killed “several 50ml bottles of his own alcohol” and became so belligerent that two off-duty law enforcement officials had to fight him into his seat; this passenger was later fined $ 14,500. In February, another JetBlue flight was interrupted when a flight attendant told a passenger they could not drink from their own mini-bottles of alcohol. The disturbance escalated and the passenger was fined $ 18,500.
Since the start of 2021, the FAA has received approx. 2,500 reports of passenger irregularities, many of which are linked to refusing to comply with the rules on drinking and federal masks.