Amid an uptick in unruly passengers mid-flight, both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have decided to discontinue the sale of alcoholic beverages in the main cabin.
On Saturday, American Airlines joined Southwest in suspending alcohol service on flights following a recent attack of a Southwest flight attendant who was left bloodied and injured, CNN Business reports.
“Flight attendants are on the front lines every day not only ensuring our customers’ safety, but are also calming fears, answering questions, and enforcing policies like federally-required face masks,” American Airlines managing director of flight Brady Byrnes, said in a memo.
“Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft,” the memo said. “Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews.”
Alcohol service was originally suspended in March 2020 to minimize personal contact between the staff and passengers. It was initially slated to resume on the airline’s main cabin on June 1 but will now remain suspended until Sept. 13 on American Airlines.
Video obtained by CBS News shows the moment a Southwest Airlines flight attendant was punched by a passenger after asking her to keep her seat belt fastened during a flight from Sacramento to San Diego Sunday. https://t.co/gQusevodYC pic.twitter.com/oOYvPdwCFj
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 27, 2021
“While we appreciate that customers and crewmembers are eager to return to “normal,” we will move cautiously and deliberately when restoring pre-COVID practices,” Byrnes said in the memo. “We also recognize that alcohol can contribute to atypical behavior from customers onboard and we owe it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers,” Byrnes said.
Meanwhile, Southwest was set to resume alcohol service in June, but it is now pushing it back until at least the end of July, Slate reports. It released a statement noting the “recent uptick industrywide of incidents in-flight involving disruptive passengers.”
“We realize this decision will be disappointing for some customers, but we feel it to be the right decision now in the interest of safety and comfort of all onboard,” they added.
Its decisions come after a recent viral video showed a woman punching a flight attendant on a Southwest flight from Sacramento to San Diego. The victim’s two front teeth were knocked out and the passenger was arrested and charged with battery and banned from the airline for life, NBC News reports.