Southwest Airlines passengers have been peppering the airline for months with questions about when it will start selling alcoholic beverages again after suspending the service during the pandemic.
On Thursday, the nation’s largest domestic carrier finally delivered a definitive answer: this summer.
The first flights to see the return of booze: Hawaii flights. Southwest said it will start selling beer and red wine on flights between the mainland and Hawaii on June 24.
On July 14, it will begin selling beer, red and white wine, vodka and whiskey on all but its shortest flights (those 251 miles and longer).
Southwest also announced that it will resume serving complimentary coffee on all flights 251 miles and longer beginning June 24.
The airline currently offers Coke, Diet Coke, 7 Up and water, options it only recently brought back after serving only water upon request.
“Bringing back this level of beverage service allows Southwest to provide an enhanced on-board experience for customers traveling with us this summer, and the additional service restores more elements of Southwest hospitality that customers know and love,” Southwest said in a statement.
Southwest isn’t alone in bringing back alcoholic beverages. On Wednesday, Alaska Airlines began selling alcoholic beverages again. Last week, United said it will start selling White Claw seltzer and other drinks on flights longer than two hours and Alaska Airlines announced the return of alcoholic beverages. United had earlier tested the return of alcohol sales in economy class on select flights.
Airlines eliminated in-flight alcohol sales and reduce or eliminated other in flight service for months during the pandemic due to health and safety concerns. More recently, flight attendants union have expressed concern about the resumption of in-flight service because they say it prompts passengers to keep their masks off for long periods of time.
With no alcohol on board, many passengers thought it was OK to bring their own. Southwest and other airlines started reminding passengers they were not allowed to do that, a practice still in effect.
Don’t BYOB: Southwest admonishes passengers for drinking their own alcohol
My Southwest drink coupons expired. Will I be able to use them?
Southwest said it will begin accepting its famous drink coupons, doled out to frequent fliers after completing 10 flights or to passengers buying its pricey “business select” tickets, when drink service returns. The airline is normally strict about expiration dates but previously said it will extend the date of coupons that expired during the pandemic. The airline said Thursday it will accept printed coupons with a 2020 or 2021 expiration date through the end of the year.
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