American Airlines has reportedly joined Southwest Airlines in halting alcohol sales onboard, after a Southwest flight attendant was attacked mid-flight last week.
The Dallas Morning News reported that American Airlines told crew members it will not reintroduce alcohol sales until September 14, when the airline’s mask mandate is set to expire.
Alcoholic beverage service, which was first paused in March 2020 to decrease contact between passengers and flight attendants amid the coronavirus pandemic, was set to restart on Tuesday.
The airline cited a recent spike in “disturbing situations on board aircraft” when announcing the decision to delay the sale of alcoholic beverages.
“Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft,” Brady Byrnes, American Airlines vice president of flight safety, told crew members in a letter on Saturday, according to the Dallas newspaper.
“Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews,” he added.
Byrnes recognized the influence alcohol can have on “atypical behavior from customers on board.”
“We also recognize that alcohol can contribute to atypical behavior from customers on board, and we owe it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers,” he said.
Southwest Airlines told employees in an internal memo on Friday that it was delaying the reintroduction of alcoholic beverage sales after a flight attendant was attacked mid-flight. The service was supposed to resume in June.
“We realize this decision may be disappointing for some Customers, but we feel this is the right decision at this time in the interest of the Safety and comfort of all Customers and Crew onboard,” a Southwest Airlines spokesman told The Hill at the time.
A flight attendant was “seriously assaulted” last week and lost two lost teeth after being punched by a passenger onboard.
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
That passenger has been permanently banned from traveling with the airline.
In March, the Federal Aviation Administration extended its zero-tolerance policy for bad behavior on flights, as officials reviewed hundreds of cases involving unruly passengers, a number of whom refused to wear face masks amid the pandemic.