The Federal Aviation Administration is urging airport police to arrest more people who are unruly or violent on flights — and is asking airport bars and restaurants to stop serving alcoholic drinks to-go.
According to ABC News, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received reports that some airport concessionaires, such as bars and restaurants, have offered alcohol “to-go” when passengers get up and walk over to their gate.
Therefore, over the years, passengers have come to believe they can bring alcohol onto their flights, even though FAA regulations specifically prohibit the consumption of alcohol on board airplanes that is not served by the airline itself.
“Even though FAA regulations specifically prohibit the consumption of alcohol aboard an aircraft that is not served by the airline, we have received reports that some airport concessionaires have offered alcohol ‘to go,’” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson wrote to airport leaders nationwide. “And passengers believe they can carry that alcohol onto their flights or they become inebriated.”
According to the FAA’s investigations into the surge in aggressive behavior on board, alcohol is almost always a contributing factor.
This update comes after a 22-year-old unruly passenger allegedly groped and punched flight attendants, requiring the staff to duct tape him to his seat, on a Frontier Airlines flight headed to Miami, Saturday.
“Airports can help bring awareness to this prohibition on passengers carrying open alcohol onboard their flights through signage, public service announcements, and concessionaire education,” says Dickson.
However, some major U.S. airlines, such as American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have already prohibited purchasing alcohol on board until the mask mandate expires. Their policy ends in mid-September.
According to ABC News, Southwest Airlines made the change in June after an unruly passenger allegedly knocked a flight attendant’s two front teeth out.
“Certainly with the number of incidents you can tell why flight attendants would feel leery about beginning to sell alcohol onboard the aircraft again,” says Lyn Montgomery, a spokesperson for the union that represents Southwest flight attendants.
“There’s a lot a lot going on in the commercial aerospace sector right now, more than I think there has been in a long time,” says Jason Rabinowitz, an airline and travel industry blogger.
“It just seems like tensions are really high and an inordinate amount of passengers just aren’t behaving themselves in the air for some reason,” he added.
Plus, COVID-related shutdowns and travel restrictions have also prompted airlines to let staff go, and airlines are having trouble bringing pilots and flight attendants back, even as demand has increased.
“The airlines didn’t really layoff many people,” says Rabinowitz. “A lot of employees during the pandemic took buyouts because there just wasn’t anything for them to do at the time. And, it seems like there were a bit too many buyouts. The airlines need to re-call employees, put them in the right place, put them through training, and it’s just taking a lot of time and resources to get everyone trained and back where they need to be.”