- Southwest has paused its in-flight alcohol service several times since the pandemic began.
- But now Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the carrier plans to resume service in the spring.
- The news comes on the back of FAA data showing it received 5,981 unruly passenger reports in 2021.
Southwest Airlines says it could start serving alcohol on board again this spring.
Like other carriers, Southwest suspended in-flight alcohol sales for the first time in 2020 to minimize exposure between staff and passengers during the pandemic. The service was postponed first due to an increase in unruly passengers and then due to a federal mask mandate which runs until March 18.
This week, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the carrier plans to resume alcohol service “at the end of the first quarter, possibly early in the second quarter,” according to a transcript of the call on the airline’s fourth quarter results.
The carrier is tightening its safe distancing measures before resuming service, Kelly said in Thursday’s call.
His comments come after this month’s data from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that it received 5,981 reports of unruly passengers for all of 2021. According to the FAA, more than two-thirds of incidents in 2021 were due to disputes over face masks.
The Southwest Airlines flight attendants’ union, TWU Local 556, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Flight attendants told Insider’s Allan Akhtar in June last year that they hoped the limits on alcohol service would remain.
“When we have problems that get worse, they would be ten times worse if they were fueled by alcohol,” an unnamed flight attendant told Insider at the time.
FAA regulations do not allow passengers to consume alcohol on board flights unless the beverages are served by the airline.