Airlines

Hey, Southwest: Don’t Punish Everyone Because of a Few Jerks

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


As someone who attended survived 13 years of Catholic school (K-12), I’m no stranger to experiencing group punishment. I’m not a huge fan of the concept, nor the practice.

Perhaps Southwest Airlines went to the same schools I did.

The Airline of Love just reversed course on a fairly big announcement. It originally announced it would phase in alcohol service on board its flights next month. Beer, wine, vodka, and whiskey would eventually be available on flights over 250 miles. Cheers, right?!

Well, don’t crack open a cold one quite yet.

“Given the recent uptick in industry-wide incidents of passenger disruptions inflight,” Southwest said, “we have made the decision to pause the previously announced re-start of alcohol service onboard June (Hawaii flights) and July.” (That comes to us from Points, Miles, and Martinis — how’s that for an appropriate source?!)

Once again, the ne’er-do-well troublemakers ruin it for everyone.

Wild Turkey bourbon is served during a Southwest Airlines flight to Las Vegas.

A Southwest flight attendant was decked by an enraged passenger last week — and lost two teeth. (Though another passenger asserts the flight attendant isn’t exactly blameless and could’ve deescalated the situation.)

Air rage incidents have increased dramatically. Most of them are apparently are arguments started over mask-wearing.

But I’m curious how much inflight drink service has to do with it.

People Drink Before Flights!

Plenty of travelers drink before boarding flights. You’ve seen, I’ve seen it. (Heck, maybe I’ve had a drink with you at an airport bar or club lounge before a flight.)

The Los Angeles Times‘ Hugo Martin wrote (subscription possibly required) a couple of years ago:

…more than 60% of travelers in a recent survey said they down a drink or two before heading to the airport.

Once in the airport and on the plane…the rate of alcohol consumption increases, according to the survey.

(Bold mine.)

So, some people are already gassed well before inflight drink carts are unlatched from galley storage areas. That’s not the airline’s fault. Nor is the fault of responsible fellow passengers. Depending on a passenger’s behavior at the airport, it may be difficult to fault a bartender or lounge staff.

Consider this, too: if travelers know there isn’t alcohol available on a flight, they may feel more inclined to binge drink at the airport instead of spacing out their drinks throughout their journey.

Cocktails drinks on bar
“Please line up, Boarding Group A1 through A30…” (©iStock.com/IvanZivkovic)

Plus, flight attendants are trained to spot intoxicated passengers. Perhaps it’s not this simple, but maybe the drunk passengers shouldn’t get served. Passengers who drink responsibly and can handle their alcohol don’t really pose a threat to anyone, as far as I can tell.

I’m fine not drinking alcohol on a plane. I did it a few weeks ago, in fact. I have Southwest itineraries scheduled and this hiccup won’t change my mind.

But I appreciate having the option of enjoying some red wine or bourbon. (Though I certainly won’t bring my own alcohol onto a flight.)

So I hope Southwest reconsiders its reconsideration. In the meantime, maybe Brad Paisley needs to add some lyrics to this classic:

Final Approach

What do you think? Did Southwest do the right thing by staying dry? Or do they need to pour a good beverage and relax a little?

Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!

 

If you drink, please do so legally and responsibly. Worried you have a drinking problem? Consider contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit SAMHSA.gov.

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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9 Comments

  1. Billy Bunter Reply

    It’s amazing the importance people place on being able to drink alcohol on a plane, particularly domestic flights. Hit the water for a few hours you fiends!

  2. Finally!! An airline employer who cares for it’s employees! I totally agree with Southwest when people behave badly.

  3. I think if you can’t go a few hours without alcohol, you have a problem.

  4. It’s a 3 hour flight. What’s the big deal? Smokers can do it.. you can too. 🙂

  5. Of course SW did the right thing! How is this a question? Is it that big of a deal to not have alcohol for just a couple of hours or so? Can Americans not handle this? It’s an unfortunate fact that behavior of a few affects all but that’s the way it is.

  6. I wonder if there is any correlation/causation between the number of violent incidents and the implementation of bag fees. I definitely don’t condone the bad behavior but I feel like the airlines have created a situation where boarding is way more stressful and competitive (for overhead space) and this has been a natural outcome of that. It could also be that in combination with smaller seats.

  7. I disagree with the Southwest approach and agree with you Chris, regarding the “shotgun” approach to disciplining all for the bad actions of a very few. And yes, I went to Catholic school too for all those years. Oy vey!

    • Michael Martinez Reply

      I don’t think stopping the sale of alcohol in domestic flights is the answer to this problem. How much could this person was able to drink before the incident? She could have this to drink before boarding the plane. If the flight attendant notice the person drunk, he/she can refuse boarding as well denied the sale of alcohol if the person is drunk.
      How about if the passenger take some drugs before or during flight? Would be about the same reactions? So isn’t the alcohol sale..
      We don’t know the whole story, there are always 2 sides to the story. We don’t know how the f/a talked to the passenger.
      The bottom line is that each person is responsible for its own acts, and everyone else should not be punished for it.
      If the airlines wants more control on the alcohol, they can come with other policies, instead all the way to 0 alcohol.
      I’m pretty sure that this person will have her share of legal problems and fines to worry about. If alcohol was the problem or the factor that took her here, she wouldn’t drink again on a flight.

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