US Airways Airbus A320 Tail. Image from US Airways.
Back in 2007 the state of New Mexico pulled US Airways liquor license due to an incident involving a drunk passenger in 2006. This passenger had a lot to drink on the flight and ended up killing six people including himself. Of course, this is a horrid tragedy and should have never happened, but one that is not the direct fault of the airline.
The FAA decided not to take any action against US Airways, but the state of New Mexico demanded the airline followed their Liquor Control Act and revoked their liquor license. Although the airline probably should have cut off the passenger from having more to drink, it was the passenger’s personal responsibility to make the decision not to drive, not the airline’s. Who knew if someone was to pick him up, he had a layover or was taking a taxi.
US Airways fought New Mexico stating that the state had no authority to stop them from selling alcohol since it was a federal issue. The airline took the state to Federal court and in October 2009, the Federal court sided with the state of New Mexico. US Airways was not satisfied with the outcome and took the case to the federal appeals court. Last Friday, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with US Airways, reversing the decision the previous federal judge made, stating that judge failed to balance state and federal interests. The court showed that the airline is already regulated by the Federal Aviation Act and the state must follow the 21st Amendment.
Now the case will head back to the district court to be re-tried, hopefully in giving US Airways the right to serve alcohol in all 50 states . Cheers to the 10th Circuit court for overturning New Mexico’s poor decision and US Airways for moving this case forward.
Source: Business Week
Aeroflot Airlines Ilyushin Il-96-300 (RA-96008)
Sometimes when you see the results of a study you just want to say, “duh!” Recently Aeroflot, Russia’s flag carrier, banned alcohol on some of its longer flights to see if it would decrease in flight disturbances. Not to surprisingly, they did see a decrease.
The ban was only for passengers in economy seats (maybe people with more money can hold their booze better?). Since the change, Aeroflot has seen a “significant fall” in the number of alcohol-related issues (this is the “duh” part).
Due to the success, the airline is continuing to ban alcohol on flights from Moscow to Havana, Bangkok, Shanghai and the Russian cities of Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky at least through the summer.
I am sort of torn with the banning of alcohol on flights. When you read about passengers going crazy on flights, 95% of the time alcohol (and/or drugs) are involved. However, flying is very stressful to a lot of people and alcohol can give passengers a certain level of comfort. Alcohol is also a big money maker for airlines. Those $5-8 you are spending on mixed drinks costs the airlines much less and losing that extra revenue would cause airlines to increase prices.
Many flight attendants I have talked to would love to see alcohol banned on flights. You can imagine, sometimes it makes grumpy passengers even more grumpy. Plus having the “I think you might have had enough, ” conversation can’t be easy.
Honestly, I don’t mind having a little buzz while travelling at 30,000 feet. I don’t fear flying, I don’t get angry, but I might get annoying when I keep talking about how awesome it is we are all flying.
Do you think banning or reducing alcohol consumption on airlines, knowing prices would go up, is a good move?
Source: FlightGlobal Image: Osdu
Drinks on a recent flight on Alaska Airlines that did not fly over New Mexico
In 2007 US Airways sued the state of New Mexico because the state pulled the airline’s liquor license. The state chose to do this after a passenger, Dana Papsi, was served too much alcohol on a flight and caused a car crash that killed five people, plus himself. This means US Airways cannot serve any alcohol on flights that are over New Mexico or grounded in the state. The airline lost the federal suit, meaning New Mexico had to remain alcohol-free.
Kelly O’Donnel, New Mexico’s License Department superintendent stated, “It is a victory, a huge victory, for public safety here in New Mexico and for other states that want to ensure their liquor laws are upheld by everybody who is selling liquor within their borders.”
US Airways argued that the state has no authority to tell the airline how to regulate alcohol, since it is a federal issue. Now that the federal courts have agreed with the state, the airline has nowhere else to go.
Although the passenger involved should have had better personal responsibility, the 21st Amendment provides the right to distribute and sell alcohol, and that comes with responsibility in serving. During the investigation, other passengers stated it was obvious the man who caused the five deaths was intoxicated and the airline still served him two additional drinks.
Should the airline not be allowed to serve alcohol or should they get a fine and be able to continue?
A dramatic view of the Grand Tetons immediately after stepping out of door 1L on an American Airlines Boeing 757-200 at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC/KJAC) in Wyoming.
The 57 year old pilot was supposed to be taking 204 passengers from London’s Heathrow to Chicago yesterday on flight AA87. Before the flight could take off, security staff alerted police who administered a breathalyzer that the pilot failed. The flight was delayed, but was able to take off after finding a replacement pilot.
Source: MSNBC Image: matt.hintsa