American Airlines CEO Doug Parker confirmed what we longed suspected: when passengers are not sold alcohol onboard, they bring it themselves and consume it illicitly, often in larger quantities than the portion-controlled miniature bottles available onboard.
American Airlines CEO Admits More Passengers Bring Their Own Alcohol When It Isn’t Sold Onboard
In an employee question and answer session, Parker conceded that AA has “more customers bringing on alcohol than they should have” and that “intoxicated passengers…are not allowed on the airplane, they’re a safety risk…no one should be on the airplane that’s intoxicated.”
That’s clear enough. But what is the root cause? Parker blames the lack of alcohol sales onboard.
“I’m sure there’s more of it than there has been because customers understand they can’t get a drink on board. So that’s a new phenomenon as well and we can’t let it happen. Please take it away from them as soon as you see it.”
But practically, how is that accomplished? Start inspecting all carry-on items? Sniff water bottles or paper coffee cups for traces of alcohol? Large bottles of alcohol may not be allowed in carry-on baggage, but it is easy enough to buy alcohol in terminal restaurants and then take it onboard.
Parker pins the solution on confiscating alcohol as soon as it is seen:
As to people bringing their own alcohol on, that’s not just our policy that’s an FAR. That’s a federal regulation. Customers are not allowed to bring their own alcohol on the aircraft…
I’ll defer to the people that know this better than me, but what I’ve been told is what you are to do is to confiscate the alcohol. And depending on how intoxicated they are deal with that as well. But the alcohol needs to be confiscated. You can choose whether you give it back to them at the end of the flight. But we confiscate alcohol when we see it. People can’t bring their own alcohol on airplanes…that cannot be tolerated.
There’s nothing I disagree with in Parker’s statement, however it strikes me as incredibly reactive rather than proactive, sort of like treating lung cancer after it develops instead of working to prevent it from ever appearing in the first place.
By all means, take the alcohol away if someone pulls out a flask or a bottle of water that smells more like hand sanitizer. But the solution to the problem isn’t to put out every flareup, but to stop it from happening in the first place.
As bad as flying was in economy class during the pre-pandemic era, there are only a limited number of things that can explain why passengers seemed to be so better behaved. Masks are one possible explanation. Alcohol is another.
With the Delta COVID-19 variant now rearing its ugly head, I suggest airlines try bringing back alcohol onboard . Consider it an experiment. I’ll still be drinking water and would advise you to do the same, but suspect that even with masks still required, this will quickly help ease tensions and conflict onboard. It’s at least worth a shot…