If you were looking forward to a Mai Tai or other tropical adult beverage en route to Hawaii, keep reading. A glass of wine or a beer is a quintessential part of the Hawaii travel experience for many of you. Alcoholic beverages, however, are seen by the civil aviation industry and regulators as a major contributor to unacceptable airline behavior. At the same time, airlines serve alcohol because so many passengers desire it and because it is a money-maker.
While flights to Hawaii have largely resumed with business as usual, there are understandably changes, including your beverage options, and more may be ahead. Those who think of that Hawaii-inspired and umbrella-adorned beverages as the start to their vacation may want to take note and choose airlines accordingly.
Southwest Airlines has a no-alcohol policy.
After a series of issues, including having a flight attendant assaulted and teeth knocked out, the airline decided to extend its policy of no alcoholic beverages. That incident occurred when the passenger refused to remain seated. SWA’s alcohol restriction began as a Covid related rule, but now it is for different reasons.
Southwest said that they have indefinitely suspended liquor service. Passengers may also not consume their own alcoholic beverages onboard, as is the case with all airlines. However, it is legal to bring it onboard, remaining unopened, so long as it complies with the FAA liquids rule. Recently, the FAA assessed a $15,000 fine against a passenger who drank alcohol on board that was not served by the airline.
This SWA no alcohol rule came as the FAA reported more than 3,400 incidents of bad passenger behavior just this year. The government has implemented a no-tolerance policy on offenses. See Violence On Hawaii Flights. Issues Escalate. $52,000 FAA Fine. The FAA said that more than 1,000 of the recent incidents involved alcohol. Other contributing factors are said to be drugs and mental illness.
Southwest had planned to restart alcohol service last month. Instead, they added coffee to their beverage offerings.
American Airlines restricts alcohol by the cabin.
American reintroduced alcoholic beverages but only in its premium domestic cabins. They indicated in May that they planned to reintroduce alcohol in the main cabin, but we haven’t heard anything more. This month, American had an incident wherein a woman attempted to open the airplane door, then bit a flight attendant. She was subsequently restrained with duct tape.
Alaska Airlines continues to serve alcohol – so far.
Earlier this year, an Alaska Airlines passenger urinated on the floor of the aircraft. We aren’t clear if or how much alcohol he consumed during the flight vs. before boarding. When asked to cover himself, the passenger said, “I have to pee.”
United Airlines alcohol rules won’t impact Hawaii flights.
United will only offer beer and wine on flights over 800 miles, so Hawaii-bound passengers are spared for now. They are restricting alcohol on shorter flights, which has originally been pegged as flights up to 200 miles.
No restrictions at Delta Airlines.
On Delta Airlines, alcoholic beverages are available on all flights in premium classes of service and in coach on flights of 500 miles and more.
Hawaiian Airlines’ policy updated.
Their website says that they are serving alcohol, and in fact, that is now the case. We heard from Hawaiian Airlines’ Communications Manager Tara Schmooka, who said, “I just wanted to reach out re this post on onboard alcohol sales to let you know we resumed alcohol sales for our main cabin guests on transpac flights on July 15.” Multiple commentors had previously reported that no alcohol was served.
Airport bars will be busy.
Passengers are free to consume alcoholic beverages at airports. Be careful, though, as airlines can refuse boarding when a passenger appears to be intoxicated.
Congress may act on airline issues.
Congress is considering a no-fly list for those convicted of assault. At present, a passenger barred from one airline can take a flight on a different carrier.
Does the availability of adults beverages impact your choice of airlines flying to Hawaii?