Some nice drinks had on a recent flight on Alaska Airlines that did not fly over New Mexico

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?

Source: Gadling


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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5 Comments

So, the law only applies to US Airways? That seems kind of silly to single out one airline.

Howard Johnson

The great society of our brother’s keepers continues. States rights – which the courts have steadily eroded – are to be supported when such support results in politically expedient outcomes. It’s all an illusion. Nobody cares what is right or what is best for the population. It is only about collecting and retaining power and prestige. Democrat or Republican – no matter.

What I can’t figure out is the state losing revenue from liquor sales. I mean one of the strengths of our society is our ability to compromise in almost any given situation.
Why not this one?
If the state told USAirways it had to hold training to either withhold liquor or identify intoxicated passengers AND it failed to do so…that’s one thing.
You mean the state found it necessary to single out one air carrier?
….if I were in charge at USAirways (which I am not)…I’d discontinue service to New Mexico until a compromise could be reached.
Why not?

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