While American Airlines continues its liquor-free policy in economy class, United Airlines is restoring the sales of all liquor onboard. Starting next month, liquor minis will again be available for purchase in economy class on most United Airlines flights.
United Airlines Will Again Offer Liquor Minis For Purchase
Starting November 15, 2021 liquor minis will again be offered for sale on all United and United Express flights over 301 miles.
Flight attendants have been instructed to offer only one alcohol beverage at a time (“If a customer requests an alcoholic beverage, serve ONE single cocktail, beer, wine, or hard alcohol at a time, per beverage service. Customers can request additional beverages from the galley or their seat after the beverage service concludes.”). This marks a change in practice from limiting liquor sales only to beverage services. Passengers can now request additional alcoholic drinks between formal beverage services, which occur 1-3 times during a flight depending upon flight length.
All payments on United will continue to be contactless and United will begin accepting PayPal as a form of payment next month.
Furthermore, United will introduce three new adult beverages (though these will replace three existing liquor choices):
- White Claw Hard Seltzer Black Cherry (replacing White Claw Hard Seltzer Mango)
- Goose Island Neon Beer Hug IPA (replacing Breckenridge Brewery Juicy Drop Hazy IPA)
- Kona Longboard Island Lager (replacing Kona Big Wave Golden Ale)
United’s 1K and Global Services members who end up in economy class will continue to be offered one complimentary alcoholic beverage (except for the 375 mL premium wines).
United’s Approach To Alcohol Sales Vs. American Airlines
American Airlines has made clear it will not resume alcohol sales onboard until the federal mask mandate is lifted. That mandate is set to expire in January 2022 but could easily be extended again. American cites onboard misbehavior and violence toward flight attendants as the reason for this move.
Meanwhile, United was the first legacy carrier to bring back beer and wine sales and now will offer its full selection of alcoholic beverages for purchase, even on shorter flights. At the same time, United Airlines has reported far fewer in-flight incidents this year than American (in fact, United CEO Scott Kirby says the number of incidents is below 2019 levels).
Is there a link? Could it be that alcohol sales help to relax customers and promote good behavior? Could it be that by selling alcohol onboard, United is better able to regulate portion size and cut down on passengers bringing their own drinks onboard?
Both from an ancillary revenue and behavioral perspective, United’s approach seems to be working.
When Will Real Cups And Glasses Return?
I asked a United spokesperson when real cups and glasses will return to premium cabins and was told:
“I don’t have any hard dates I can share at this time but will likely have an update on this for you in the coming weeks. “
Let’s hope those return soon.
United Airlines will again offer economy class passengers the ability to purchase liquor minis on flights over 301 miles. These will be available starting on November 15, 2021. Only contactless forms of payment will be accepted. With the return of liquor minis, all alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase behind the curtain.