Many Airlines Are Banning Alcohol on Flights Due to COVID-19

updated Jun 16, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Volo

You might have already guessed that air travel is going to look very different for the foreseeable future (and possibly forever). But something you might not have thought about? How all this might affect your mid-flight bloody Mary habit.

While alcohol sales for home use have skyrocketed during shelter-at-home orders, that likely has a lot to do with where people can’t drink right now: anywhere else. And that includes on airplanes, reports CNN, listing that Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, EasyJet, KLM, and Virgin Australia have all significantly reduced or cut all alcoholic drinks during flights. 

Each airline has been left somewhat on their own to devise a safety plan, though nearly all of the European and many American ones now require face masks to be worn throughout flights with the exception of meals. And one of the easiest ways to minimize meal times and the interaction between fliers and staff is to eliminate drink services. Delta has stopped all alcoholic services within the Americas, and American Airlines has similarly limited alcohol services to long-haul international routes.

The long fall of airline service from full meals to the occasional snack and expensive cocktails has been much discussed and long in motion, but the pandemic may deliver the final blow on the idea that a traveler’s time in the air should come with anything but the most perfunctory of services. Yes, at the moment it is what is safest, but given the overall trajectory and the likely long-lasting issues around COVID-19, it seems unlikely that people will be seeing those airplane bottles on their tray tables anytime soon.

This is all to say: If you’re planning on flying anytime soon, bring a snack that you can eat before getting on the plane, and maybe wait on that cocktail until you reach your destination.