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Ban Alcohol on Airplanes

STOCK PHOTO: Looking out the airplane window, into the blue horizon, showing the curvature of the Earth, holding a refreshing drink. (iStock)

I yield to no one in my love of a good beer or whiskey. But there’s a time and a place for things, including drinking. Airplanes and other highly public places are not the time and place. For years, flight attendant and other passengers have had to deal with drunk and disorderly passengers, sometimes leading to violence. As someone who cares deeply about workplace safety, not to mention to getting to my destination on time and not being delayed because of an emergency landing to kick an unruly passenger off a plane after said person has punched a flight attendant or felt up a woman next to him, it’s time to simply get rid of booze on planes. All of this has been made worse by our culture that has empowered individuals to be their very worst, with the combination of booze and face masks in the atmosphere of fascism and weapons making for an extremely toxic combination.

There’s not really a problem with allowing a person a single drink on an airplane of course. 99% of the users of alcohol are going to be utterly responsible on the plane. But when people come on to the plane already sloshed, you have massive problems ready to go. I’ve long been impressed with the professionalism of flight attendants. I was on a flight a few years ago when an old woman died during takeoff. I’ve been on flights with horrible drunks. I’ve been on a flight that hit a flock of geese shortly after takeoff, leading to an emergency landing (not recommended!). In each of these scenarios, the attendants were amazing. But things are getting worse for them, leading to airlines moving toward what I am recommending here:

Two major airlines, American and Southwest, have postponed plans to resume serving alcohol on flights in an effort to stop a surge of unruly and sometimes violent behavior by passengers who have shoved, struck and yelled at flight attendants.

Both airlines announced the policies this week after the latest assault was captured on a widely watched video that showed a woman punching a flight attendant in the face on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego on Sunday.

The flight attendant lost two teeth in the assault, according to her union, and the passenger, who was identified by the police as Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, has been charged with battery causing serious bodily injury. She has also been barred for life from flying Southwest, the airline said.

It was not immediately clear if Ms. Quinonez had a lawyer, and she did not respond on Saturday to messages left at a number listed under her name.

Since Jan. 1, the Federal Aviation Administration has received about 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with a federal mandate that they wear masks on planes.

The agency said that in the past it did not track reports of unruly passengers because the numbers had been fairly consistent over the years, but that it began receiving reports of a “significant increase” in disruptive behavior starting in late 2020.

“We have just never seen anything like this,” Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said during an online meeting with federal aviation officials on Wednesday. “We’ve never seen it so bad.”

Southwest Airlines issued a statement on Friday citing the “recent uptick industrywide of incidents in-flight involving disruptive passengers” as it announced that it had paused plans to resume serving alcohol on flights.

I know you all love your drinks. But there’s a time and a place. And a situation where flight attendants are losing teeth? Not the time nor place.

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