Southwest Airlines has indefinitely suspended alcohol sales on all flights after a months-long rise in passenger disruptions.
The announcement is a reversal of the company’s announcement just last week that it would phase in-flight alcohol sales back in throughout June and July. Southwest suspended the sale of alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic to promote social distancing and minimize contact between flight attendants and passengers.
Though Friday’s announcement said the pause is indefinite, Sonya Lacore, vice president of in-flight operations for Southwest, said in a statement that the Dallas-based airline plans to reintroduce alcohol sales at some point in the future.
“We will continue to work with supply chain in their efforts to build inventory so that we’re ready to serve our customers when we choose to once again sell alcohol,” Lacore said.
The company will go ahead with its plan to expand its selection of soft drinks and coffee in July. Throughout most of the pandemic, Southwest only offered Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, 7UP and water in-flight.
“Although this decision may be disappointing to some customers, we take your safety seriously and it is our top priority,” Lacore said.
This announcement follows an executive of the airline telling employees that the woman accused of punching a flight attendant on a Sunday flight had been banned from the airline, according to The Associated Press.
The altercation, which occurred in San Diego, left the flight attendant bloodied and two of her teeth were knocked out.
Southwest, other airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration have raised concerns about the rising incidents of passenger disruptions this year. The FAA has begun to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on unruly or dangerous passenger behavior and proposed thousands of dollars in civil penalties against several passengers accused of misconduct.
According to the FAA, 2,500 cases of passenger misconduct have been reported since Jan. 1, including 1,900 cases of noncompliance with federal mask mandates.