After suspending alcoholic beverage service in the domestic economy for two years, American Airlines has set a date for it to return.

American resumes buy on board service on April 18, 2022

The economy alcohol ban will be ending by American Airlines. Alcohol will be sold in economy on domestic and short haul international flights as of April 18, 2022.

  • As of that date, alcohol will once again be available for purchase in economy on flights of over 250 miles
  • As before, beer will cost $8, wine will cost $9, and liquor will cost $9
  • April 18 is the date that the federal transportation mask mandate is due to expire, though it remains to be seen if that will be extended or not
  • American will also bring back buy on board food as of that date, on flights of 1,500+ miles; the menu will initially be quite limited, with just chips and nuts, but more food options should be available starting this summer
  • Throughout the pandemic American has continued to serve alcohol in first class, so there are no changes there
American will start selling alcohol in economy again

American is the last airline to bring back alcohol

American is the last major US airline to bring back alcohol. When the federal mask mandate ends, American Airlines will resume the sale of alcohol, but of course that has been extended several times.

The reality is that other major US airlines have been serving alcohol in economy for many months now. Southwest Airlines brought back the sale of alcohol in February of 2022.

There are a few thoughts about American's policy.

  • It’s interesting that American thinks that first class passengers can handle alcohol without being unruly, while the airline thinks economy passengers can’t
  • I can’t help but wonder about the economics of this; on the one hand, airlines make money selling alcohol in economy, but on the other hand American offered free alcohol to Main Cabin Extra (extra legroom economy) customers, so I wonder if it ended up being a wash, or a money-losing thing (if American was making money selling alcohol in economy, I can’t imagine it would have been suspended for this long)
  • I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that American had fewer unruly passenger incidents than competitors that were serving alcohol
American is the last major US airline to bring back alcohol

Bottom line

After more than two years, American Airlines will bring back the sale of alcohol in the domestic economy on April 18, 2022. Competitors have been selling alcohol for a long time without having more issues than Americans. Initially, only chips and nuts will be bought on flights over 1,500 miles.

At least this is a step in the right direction as American still has a lot of catching up to do.

What do you think about the return of alcohol sales in the US?

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