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American Airlines joins Southwest in delaying return of alcohol sales

American Airlines has joined Southwest Airlines in delaying the return of alcohol sales on board aircraft after a Southwest flight attendant was attacked midflight last week.

American Airlines told crew members in an internal memo on Saturday that it will not reintroduce alcohol sales until Sept. 13.

That date, according to an American Airlines spokesperson, is set to coincide with the end of the federal mask mandate.

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“American suspended alcohol sales in the Main Cabin in late March 2020, and that service will remain suspended through Sept. 13,” an American Airlines spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hill.

The airline first paused alcoholic beverage services last March to decrease contact between passengers and flight attendants amid the coronavirus pandemic. The amenity, however, was supposed to restart on Tuesday.

The airline cited a recent spike in “disturbing situations on board aircraft” when announcing the decision to delay the sale of alcoholic beverages.

“Over the past week we’ve seen some of these stressors create deeply disturbing situations on board aircraft,” Brady Byrnes, managing director of American Airlines' flight service training and administration, told crew members in a letter on Saturday.

“Let me be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews,” he added.

Byrnes recognized that “alcohol can contribute to atypical behavior from customers on board.”

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“We owe it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers,” he added.

The Dallas Morning News previously reported on American Airlines’ alcohol service delay.

Southwest Airlines told employees in an internal memo on Friday that it was delaying the reintroduction of alcoholic beverage sales after a flight attendant was attacked midflight. The service was supposed to resume in June.

"We realize this decision may be disappointing for some Customers, but we feel this is the right decision at this time in the interest of the Safety and comfort of all Customers and Crew onboard," a Southwest Airlines spokesman told The Hill at the time.

A flight attendant was “seriously assaulted” last week and lost two lost teeth after being punched by a passenger on board.

That passenger has been permanently banned from traveling with the airline.

In March, the Federal Aviation Administration extended its zero tolerance policy for bad behavior on flights as officials reviewed hundreds of cases involving unruly passengers, a number of whom refused to wear face masks amid the pandemic.

Updated at 4:33 p.m.