The past weekend saw Southwest and American Airlines decide to delay their decisions to resume serving alcohol on flights. The decisions stem from a continued increase in incidents involving disruptive passengers. FAA reports for 2021 show that, as of May 24, there were roughly 2,500 reported incidents of “unruly behavior” by passengers. Some 1,900 of those involved people refusing to comply with a federal mandate to properly wear face masks.
On May 23, a 28-year-old woman on a Southwest flight from Sacramento to San Diego, California, punched a flight attendant, knocking out two teeth. Southwest has banned the passenger. In a letter to Southwest President Gary Kelly, Lyn Montgomery, president of the local chapter of the flight attendants’ union wrote, in part:
“Today’s traveling environment requires a new level of firmness in both tone and direction to ensure proper control in the cabin of our aircraft as attitudes and behaviors of the flying public have, unfortunately, declined.
“We ask for your help in directing Management to support Flight Attendants as they work to maintain order on the aircraft by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Oftentimes, appropriate actions to maintain a safe environment have been misconstrued as being unkind or inhospitable. As alcohol sales are added back into this already volatile environment, you can surely understand our concern.”