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American Airlines Extends Alcohol Ban in Main Cabin Through Jan. 18 — When Federal Mask Mandate Expires

Leslie Josephs | CNBC
  • American and Southwest this spring said they were holding off on resuming alcohol sales on board in an effort to curb unruly traveler behavior.
  • American said it won't sell alcohol on board through at least Jan. 18, after the federal mask mandate for airplanes and other modes of transportation was extended.
  • American said it is working with the FAA to stop sales of to-go alcoholic beverages at its hubs at Dallas/Fort Worth and Charlotte, North Carolina.

American Airlines this week extended its suspension of domestic main cabin alcohol sales through Jan. 18 an effort to curb unruly traveler behavior that has surged this year.

American in May said it would hold off on resuming alcohol service in the main cabin through Sept. 13, when a federal mask mandate for air travel and other modes of transportation was set to expire. The Transportation Security Administration, however, this week extended the federal mask requirement for transportation through Jan. 18 as cases of the highly contagious delta variant of Covid-19 continue to spread.

"We are doing all we can to help create a safe environment for our crew and customers onboard our aircraft," Stacey Frantz, American's senior manager of flight service policies, wrote in a staff note Wednesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday said it has proposed fines of more than $530,000 against 34 travelers for alleged unruly behavior, bringing this year's total to more than $1 million.

Southwest Airlines also said in May that it delayed a resumption of alcohol sales on board after one of its flight attendants suffered injuries to her face and lost two teeth when she was assaulted by a passenger, according to her union. A spokesman for the carrier said the airline hasn't established a date when to resume alcohol sales.

Frantz said American is also "gaining ground" in its work with the Federal Aviation Administration to stop to-go alcohol sales at its hubs at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. The airports didn't immediately comment.

The FAA earlier this month urged airport operators to remind travelers that they cannot bring alcohol on board flights.

"Our investigations show that alcohol often contributes to this unsafe behavior," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson wrote to airport officials on Aug. 3. "The FAA requests that airports work with their concessionaires to help avoid this."

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