Sara Nelson, the President of the Association of Flight Attendants and United Airlines flight attendant, has called for a total ban on alcohol sales at airports and onboard flights. It’s the Roaring 20’s all over again…
“World’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant” Calls For Total Ban On Alcohol Sales At Airports And On Airplanes
Nelson told the Washington Post:
“The incidents of violence on planes is out of control and alcohol is often a contributor. The federal government should provide guidance to airlines and airports on pausing alcohol sales for a period of time.”
Recently, Southwest and American Airlines have announced they will further suspend alcohol sales onboard…to economy class. United Airlines, the airline for which Nelson is still a flight attendant, has recently restored onboard alcohol sales for most flights over 800 miles. Delta and Alaska Airlines are also selling alcohol onboard once again.
But is banning alcohol sales at airports and on airplanes going a bit far?
Despite the widespread view that Prohibition in the United States was a complete failure, it did help to curb alcoholism among many Americans, cut down overall crime, and increased productivity. Nevertheless, it decimated state coffers (both in terms of lost tax revenue and enforcement costs).
And if we’re being honest with ourselves, that is the real reason why Nelson’s policy proposal is dead on arrival. Do you know how much money governments make due to taxes on liquor? (Answer: a whole lot) It’s like lottery tickets and tobacco…states rely upon revenue from injurious sources. That won’t change.
I tend to think mask fatigue is a bigger issue than alcohol in causing in-flight disturbances, but Nelson has advocated for making masks permanent. While we love to consume juicy stories about alcohol-fueled misbehavior onboard, most passengers responsibility consume alcohol and are perfect ladies or gentleman onboard. Furthermore, many of the onboard incidents that have recently made headlines occurred on flights in which alcohol was not served.
Thus, banning alcohol for everyone due to the poor behavior of a few strikes me as an odd policy (and I say this as someone who generally does not consume alcohol).
I’m not so cynical that I link this call to ban alcohol to a desire for flight attendants to perform less work. While I have so many issues with Nelson, I think her intentions are noble. But banning alcohol is simply implausible. There’s too much money involved…
(H/T: View From the Wing)