It pains us to say this, but the airline experience is about to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. If you were already irked by the current extended check-in process, increased security measures, and in-flight mask policies — especially when coupled with the usual problems of having to fly with jerks — then sit down because we’ve got some bad news to drop on you. CNN reports that several airlines, including American and Delta, EasyJet, KLM, and Virgin Australia are all suspending their alcoholic drink services in response to COVID-19. In addition to removing the one thing that makes flights bearable, each airline’s mandatory mask policy is about to be more strictly enforced.
The ban on alcohol is being implemented in an effort to minimize crew and passenger interactions and varies between each airline. Some airlines will limit drink services to water and soft drinks only. Delta Airlines will refrain from offering alcohol service on any domestic flight within the United States, but will still serve alcohol during international flights and American Airlines will be judging their food and drink services according to flight length and destination.
The decision by airlines to get more strict on their mask policies was announced Monday, June 15th by Airlines for America, a trade group that represents the major American airlines. While most major airlines announced face mask requirements for flights back in early May, Dallas News reports that the policy was not strictly enforced towards non-compliant passengers who arrived maskless. Now, many airlines have signaled that they will go as far as banning passengers who do not comply.
According to AFAR, United Airlines announced on June 18th that passengers who do not comply with their new mask policy will be placed on an internal travel restriction list and lose their travel privileges “for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.” United’s policy will remain in effect for at least the next 60 days.
In a statement regarding Delta’s policy, the airline wrote: “those who choose not to comply with this or other safety requirements risk future flight privileges with Delta, which is in keeping with the face-covering enforcement policies Airlines for America recently announced.” The statement did not explicitly indicate how flight privileges would be affected. According to CNN, six other major U.S. airlines have also pledged to roll out new policies, penalties, and enforcement guidance.
As inconvenient as the new rules are, they’re not at all unwarranted. According to The Guardian, coronavirus infections are on a steep rise in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas, which all reported their highest number of new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, June 16th amid statewide reopenings.