Southwest, American airlines delay alcohol service after recent ‘deeply disturbing situations’

FAA: 2,500 reports of unruly airline passengers made this year

FILE PHOTOS - (Left) Southwest Airlines airplanes sit parked Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at Paine Field airport in Everett, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren); (Right) In this July 17, 2019 file photo American Airlines planes are parked on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. (AP Image) (Ross D. Franklin, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

American Airlines has joined Southwest Airlines in delaying alcohol service on flights due to recent incidents involving unruly passengers.

The Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said Friday that while it had planned on resuming booze sales next month, it has delayed the move.

A Southwest spokesman says the decision might disappoint some customers but is the right decision in the interest of safety.

On Saturday, American Airlines said recent “deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft” have also resulted in the suspension of alcohol aboard its flights.

“Flight attendants are on the front lines every day not only ensuring our customers’ safety, but are also calming fears, answering questions, and enforcing policies like federally-required face masks,” Brady Byrnes, the managing director of flight service at American, said in a memo that was obtained by CNN.

“Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft,” the memo said. “Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews.”

CNN reported that American’s suspension will last until Sept. 13, when the Transportation Security Administration plans to drop its mask mandate.

Southwest Airlines has not said when alcohol sales will return on flights.

The president of the Southwest flight attendants’ union has raised concerns about selling alcohol again. She said there were 477 incidents of misconduct by passengers on Southwest planes in a recent 5-week period.

Last week, Southwest passenger, 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez, was charged with felony battery after the airline said she assaulted a flight attendant. The employee reportedly lost two teeth as she was punched in the face.

The incident stemmed from Quinonez ignoring inflight instructions upon landing, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said.

Quinonez was also banned from the airline, the Associated Press reported.

So far this year, about 2,500 reports of unruly airline passengers have been made to the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the agency.

That includes about 1,900 reports regarding passengers who refuse to comply with the federal mask mandate.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.