Southwest to bring back alcohol sales on flights

The airline pauses sales of alcoholic beverages nearly two years ago at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Southwest Airlines airplane

Southwest Airlines announced Friday that it will bring back alcohol-beverage service on flights after a nearly two-year hiatus.

An expanded selection of beverages will begin on Feb. 16, according to a release from the company.

The curtailment came amid concerns about the number of unruly flight passengers and the pandemic, which resulted in passengers have to wear a mask. 

Tony Roach, the airline's customer experience and customer relation vice president, said the decision was made as customers have "expressed a desire for more beverage options."

The airline will restore aa range of alcoholic beverages for purchase on board including beer, wine, vodka, whisky, rum and tequila. Nonalcoholic beverages like tonic water, Coke Zero, and hot chocolate will also be available. United Airlines restarted its alcohol service in November of 2021, though other leading airlines have no set restart date yet.

Southwest was originally scheduled to reintroduce alcohol service last June, but quashed that plan after a flight attendant was attacked mid-flight. 

The TWU Local 556 union is displeased with the decision to reintroduce alcohol on flights while the COVID-19 mask mandate is still in place.

"We have adamantly and unequivocally informed management that resuming sales of alcohol while the mask mandate is in place has the great potential to increase customer non-compliance and misconduct issues," read a statement from union President Lyn Montgomery.