Many airlines are restricting or suspending the sale of alcohol onboard. Is this simply the latest cost-cutting move masked as “hygiene theatre” or are there reasonable concerns about the consumption of alcohol onboard flights in the pandemic era?
I’ve had no alcohol during the pandemic…the last drink I had was a glass of wine with dinner on a South African Airways flight in March. I’ve never been much of an alcohol connoisseur and view alcohol as a nice but unnecessary complement to a meal, not (like coffee) as an adventure in itself. I never drink to get smashed or even buzzed. Thus, the idea of in-flight alcohol bans is not near and dear to my heart.
Therefore, my opinion should be taken with that perspective in mind and perhaps you can already guess where I am going with this…
I love writing about alcohol-fueled incidents on Live and Let’s Fly because I find them humorous and, if I am being honest, because they are well-trafficked posts. But so many of these stories are simply pathetic.
I’m curious to observe if passengers will be better behaved during this time or whether this ban will make no noticeable difference. I know there are other elements in play too: open middle seats, masks, and other issues that can either mitigate or make more severe air rage incidents.
But alcohol abuse is so prevalent that the UK has been forced to issue special warnings and create placards to remind passengers not to over-consume. Perhaps this “reset button” will be helpful?
I don’t really view this as a revenue-saving measure, though there is some “hygiene theatre” at play. Sure, Virgin Atlantic’s decision to close its cocktail bar and stop offering alcohol this summer is a pure cost-savings move. But the decision by EasyJet and British Airways to stop selling alcohol on shorthaul flights? I suspect there are very healthy margins on liquor sales and thus this will hurt revenue, not help it.
I’m not convinced this is simply about “protecting the crew” by limiting interactions with customers since other beverages will still be served. But the image of a passenger with slurred speech lurching over other passengers or cursing out crewmembers is certainly more dangerous than a sober passenger drinking water or soft drinks.
I guess I am indifferent about the liquor bans springing up because I already try to avoid liquor onboard. That said, I recognize liquor helps many to get through flying and I am not a teetotaler advocating for any sort of long-term ban. But I do hope we can see if the skies become friendlier or less friendly without free-flowing alcohol.
How about you? Are you upset to see airlines limit alcohol under the guise of COVID-19?
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image: Virgin Atlantic