Aviation

Surge in unruly passenger behaviour sparks inflight booze bans

A swathe of airlines in the US have banned inflight booze service following an increase in violent or abusive passenger behaviour.

United Airlines recently became the latest US carrier to jump on the bandwagon, extending its restrictions on inflight alcohol services.

The airline said it will only allow customers to order beer, wine and hard seltzer on domestic flights over 800 miles, or flying “hub to hub”, scrapping earlier plans to offer the drinks on flights over 200 miles.

United’s decision came after both Southwest Airlines and American Airlines announced they would continue to ban the service of alcohol on their flights due to an increase in abusive passenger behaviour.

Many airlines around the world, including Virgin Australia, Easyjet and most US-based carriers, stopped serving alcoholic beverages in a bid to reduce interaction between flight attendants and passengers to stop the spread of COVID-19.

However, the extended suspensions aim to stem an alarming increase in disruptive passengers.

In a letter to flight attendants, American Airlines managing director Brady Byrnes said the airline recognised that alcohol can contribute to “atypical” behaviour from passengers.

“Many of our customers are flying for the first time in over a year and they may have a little more anxiety than usual and be unfamiliar with some of the changes on board,” he said.

“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.

“Over the past week, we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft. Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews.”

Byrnes said the airline owes it to its crew not to potentially “exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers”.

“American suspended alcohol sales in the main cabin in late March 2020, and that service will remain suspended through 13 September,” he said.

“While we appreciate that customers and crewmembers are eager to return to ‘normal’, we will move cautiously and deliberately when restoring pre-COVID practices.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there have been 2,500 reports of unruly behaviour by passengers including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate since the start of 2021.

Last month, a union that represents Southwest Airlines released an open letter to the airline’s CEO Garry Kelly urging Southwest to put better protections in place for flight attendants, after a passenger attacked a cabin crew member causing “serious injuries”, including knocking out two teeth.

In the letter, TWU Local 556 president Lyn Montgomery said the attitudes and behaviours of the flying public had “declined”.

“Unfortunately, this is just one of many occurrences,” she said.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said the airline had paused its previously announced resumption of alcohol service onboard due to “a recent uptick industry-wide of incidents inflight involving disruptive passengers”.

“We realise 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 on board,” the spokesperson said.

Last week, footage of a flight attendant calling out poorly behaving passengers went viral after a passenger posted videos of the crew member’s speech to TikTok.

According to videos posted by Brent Underwood, the American Airlines flight was diverted to Raleigh on its way from Los Angeles to Charlotte, where it remained for at least three hours.

The flight attendant said passengers had made the delay a “living hell” for cabin crew, with one passenger calling a flight attendant a “fat gorilla” and saying “suck my d***” when he was asked to wear a mask.


Featured image source: iStock/FotografiaBasica


SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Aviation

“My heart palpitated”: Influencer raises $83,000 tip for airport pianist

A kind stranger raised a whopping amount of money for a pianist who spends his days tinkling the ivories and raising spirits at an international airport.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Experts warn of yet another Sydney lockdown extension, as Tasmania reopens to Victoria and SA

We’ve coupled the good with the bad in this domestic travel update, but we won’t judge if you only choose to read the positive stuff.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

“The product of travel has lost its value”: AFTA chair pens letter to ScoMo

Tom Wanwaring has his handwriting down pat after penning a letter to the PM. Travel Weekly understands he opted for a felt tip and even sealed it with a custom wax stamp.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Qantas to host frequent flyer “point-bidding frenzy” for exclusive experiences

The airline will host a series of auctions so its frequent flyers can use up the points they’ve been hoarding since the start of the pandemic.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

NCL returns to cruising after 500-day pause

Harry Sommer and Ben Angell have given each other a big virtual high five, after the cruise line commemorated its return to the water by making a little bit of history in the process.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Baillie Lodges snaps up luxe Barossa Valley property

The company has expanded its portfolio with the addition of this gem in the middle of South Australia’s wine region. They had us at wine.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

IATA Travel Pass the “green light” to fly internationally with Qantas and Jetstar

After trialling and testing a number of potential solutions, the Qantas Group has revealed what Aussies will need to get outta here and overseas.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Travel demand “to return with a vengeance”, says Flight Centre’s Aussie boss

Kelly Spencer and her team at Flight Centre all have their catching mitts on in anticipation of an aggressive travel bounce-back.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Aurora Expeditions’ partnership with Virtuoso goes global

Aurora Expeditions CEO Monique Ponfoort is doing the happy dance after securing a global deal with the luxe travel network.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Marriott appoints four first-time GMs for signature Aussie hotels

It’s all looking very peachy over at Marriott, with the hotel giant’s career development program bearing fruit in the form of four new GMs.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Queensland channels Van Morrison in new $2.4m tourism campaign

Does “Van the Man” feature heavily in your Spotify playlists? Well, we guarantee you’ll be bopping along to this new campaign from TEQ.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

New marketplace lets travel agents avoid GDS surcharges (and keep incentives)

This article is all about GDS, the NDC and LCCs. If all of those acronyms have gone right over your head, we suggest skipping to the next story.

Share

CommentComments