Airlines Ban Alcohol As Flights Start To Resume In Response to COVID-19

As various phases of reopening sweep the world, many people have begun to return to air travel.  However, your next flight might be a bit more sobering that you’d expect as some airlines are cutting out alcoholic drinks service.  In a recent article, CNN reports that in response to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, airlines including Easyjet and KLM in Europe, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines in the United States, and Asia’s Virgin Australia are suspending partial or complete alcohol service.

With health and safety front of mind, every aspect of our lives is being impacted in order to minimize unnecessary human interaction, especially in regard to food and drink service. Many airlines already require face masks to be kept on at all times other than eating and drinking, and now there is consideration of limiting service to water only and cutting out all other forms of refreshments.

Airline Alcohol Restrictions as reported by CNN


British low-cost airline Easyjet resumed domestic routes across the UK and France on June 15, alongside a handful of international routes. While customers can bring food and non-alcoholic drinks on board, at the beginning the only refreshments on offer will be water, which has to be requested from the crew. Food service will resume gradually in coming months. The crew will manage use of toilet facilities — so it’s for the best that passengers aren’t knocking back the Guinness and G&Ts.

Virgin Atlantic will be issuing passengers with “Health Packs,” complete with face masks, surface wipes and hand gel. It too is temporarily removing alcohol on board.

KLM, flag-carrier of the Netherlands, has suspended sales of hot and alcoholic drinks, but you can still ask crew for more water and soft drinks. That’s in addition to the pre-packed refreshments that will be waiting for you on your seat when you board.
Hot meals will only be served on flights longer than nine hours.

The UK’s flag carrier, British Airways, is suspending its alcohol service in short-haul economy only (its “Euro Traveller” class), where customers will instead be offered complimentary refreshments along with a bottle of water. Special meals, including children’s meals, are temporarily unavailable.

Irish budget airline Ryanair has also resumed a limited flights schedule. It’s changed its service so that all food is pre-packaged and must be pre-ordered before flying. Alcohol isn’t off the menu, though — it’s chosen to ax its hot drinks service instead, throughout July.

The Americas

Delta Airlines isn’t serving alcohol on domestic flights or within the Americas, but beer, wine and spirits can be found on all other international flights.

Over on American Airlines, the airline is limiting food and drink service in the main cabin according to flight length and destination. Access to alcohol, however, is the preserve of long-haul international flights and the folks in First Class.


In Asia, Hong Kong’s flag-carrier Cathay Pacific will still have drinks available throughout the flight, but the pre-meal bar and pre-poured drinks are temporarily suspended.

Virgin Australia is serving all guests complimentary water and a snack, but additional food and drinks aren’t currently available for on-board purchase.

So if you’re traveling this summer, pack plenty of water and healthy snacks, keep your face mask on when not eating or drinking, and be glad that you’re being spared alcohol-related dehydration, a major contributor to jet lag.

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