- U.S. airlines stopped selling alcohol and paused other onboard food service early in the pandemic.
- American and Southwest last spring postponed a return of alcohol sales because of unruly passengers and assaults on flight attendants.
- American is the last major U.S. carrier to announce alcohol sales would resume. Snacks are coming back, too.
American Airlines said Thursday it will resume sales of alcoholic beverages on domestic and short-haul international flights next month, a plan it delayed almost a year ago because of a surge in unruly passengers and attacks on crew members.
Airlines stopped selling alcohol and paused food sales and service in March 2020, when the pandemic started and travel demand plunged. Carriers have been steadily bringing back many of those services over the past year as travelers returned in droves.
American is the last major U.S. carrier to bring back sales of beer, wine and spirits, which it will sell in its domestic coach cabins starting April 18, the date the current federal mask mandate expires. It isn't clear whether the Biden administration will extend or end the requirement. Southwest Airlines restarted alcohol sales last month.
Drinking and disputes over the mask mandate have contributed to unruly behavior on flights, flight attendant unions have said.
Sales will be available on American flights longer than 250 miles. Alcoholic beverages are complimentary on American's long-haul international flights and in first class, as it is on other major airlines.
American and Southwest last May scrapped plans to start selling alcohol again after a surge in disruptive passengers and attacks on crew, including a Southwest traveler who punched a flight attendant.
American isn't raising prices compared with the before the pandemic, a spokeswoman told CNBC. Spirits such as new arrival Aviation Gin, rum, vodka and whiskey will be $9. Wine servings are also $9. Beer is $8.
American is also bringing back buy-on-board food, which will start with flights longer than 1,500 miles, about three-and-a-half hours, starting with chips and almonds. The airline says it will start offering touchless ordering later this year.
Last month, American and Delta Air Lines announced the return of hot meals to first class on many domestic flights.