After Two Years, American Airlines Will Resume Alcohol Service in the Main Cabin

It was the last holdout among airlines in the U.S.

American Airlines planes at gates at O'Hare International Airport las ground crew finish up before take off.

Pham Le Huong Son / Getty Images

Raise a glass because starting April 18, American Airlines will finally resume main cabin alcohol service. The carrier is the last in the U.S. to do so, though travelers in first-class have been able to enjoy wine, beer, and spirits since spring 2021.

The airline said in a statement, "Our customers have expressed that having these options onboard is important to their experience with us." And after several delays, the option is on its way back. Alcohol is only served on flights traveling 250 miles or more and beer will cost $8 a glass while wine and spirits will cost $9 for most main cabin passengers. However, if you're flying in Main Cabin Extra, alcoholic beverages will be complimentary as they were pre-pandemic. 

Customers have been ready for a drink in the air for some time, but airlines have been hesitant. Not only because limited service reduces interaction time between flight attendants and passengers, but also because of violent interactions with unruly passengers as travel picked up in 2021.

American Airlines initially planned to resume alcohol service in summer 2021 but ditched those plans after some high-profile altercations. In a May 2021 memo to flight attendants, Vice President of Flight Service Brady Byrnes 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." Now, almost a full year later, American Airlines is ready to bring alcohol back.

The resumption of wine, beer, and spirit sales coincides with the end of the federal mask mandate on transportation. It will have been almost two years of required masking unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Transportation Security Administration decide to extend the mandate.

Article Sources
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  1. USA Today. "And then there were none: American Airlines bringing back inflight alcohol sales." March 18, 2022.

  2. United States Department of Transportation. "Federal Mask Requirement for Transit." Accessed March 23, 2022.