Spirits are low after two major airlines extended their ban on alcohol services following an attack on an airline attendant on May 23.
The announcement came Saturday after an incident reported from Southwest Airlines detailed that a passenger attacked an attendant, knocking out two of her teeth. Southwest announced that the attacker has been banned from the airline indefinitely.
American Airlines also released a memo for its own flight attendants, noting an increase in volatility among its passengers amplified by alcohol and reassuring staff that the company will take preventative measures against such attacks in the future. Tensions related to mask mandates and continued social distancing have also been acknowledged by the industry.
The memo read, “Alcohol can contribute to atypical behavior from customers onboard and we owe it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers … Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft … Let (us) be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews.”
President of the Association of Flight Attendants Sara Nelson gave an industry update as concerns over attendants’ safety has come into question. “We have just never seen anything like this,” she said. “We’ve never seen it so bad.
The ban on alcohol sales have been extended to Sept. 13. According to a report, “Around 2,500 reports of unruly passengers with the Federal Aviation Administration, including 1,900 that had to do specifically with people refusing to wear face masks.”
The link between mask mandates and unruliness in crowd behavior has been persistent throughout the pandemic year. State mandates on mask wearing continues to create division between people who are pro-mask and those comfortable with foregoing the mask.
The latest CDC guidelines say that vaccinated Americans are no longer required to wear a masks in both indoor and open settings.