In-flight Food and Beverage Service Stopped

Flight attendant offering up face masks on a plane while wearing a face mask and gloves
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Flight attendant offering up face masks on a plane while wearing a face mask and gloves

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the airline industry. They scrambled like every other industry to stay in business while at the same time keeping their employees and customers safe. To that end, they put several policies in place. Some were clearly great ideas and made a lot of sense, and some of them seemed…well, silly.

To comply with social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, major U.S. airlines implemented measures to restrict food and beverage offerings for most passengers on domestic flights. In fact, on most flights, including longer trips, many carriers ceased providing alcoholic beverages altogether. The airlines claimed that these measures, which were mostly implemented in March or April, helped their employees and passengers follow social distancing protocols, as it minimized their contact with each other.

Except, the rule didn’t always apply to the whole plane.

For instance, American Airlines suspended its alcohol service in the main cabin on domestic flights. However, passengers seated in first class and those flying on long-haul international flights could still request wine and cocktails. Also, in first class, customers could access bottled water and Biscoff cookies or pretzels. The airline said that the policy aimed to minimize interactions between flight attendants and customers.

So, one could deduce that interactions with customers in first class, or international travelers, was somehow safer than interactions with the main cabin.

But, a more cynical person might have guessed that first- and business-class passengers only accounted for about 5% of all passenger traffic, but generated approximately 30% of all passenger revenues, according to the International Air Transport Association. These passengers were the lifeblood of air travel, and as such, airlines were very protective of them. Keeping these high-paying customers happy trumped the “safety measures” that flight staffs followed for the rest of the passengers, who also happened to love eating Biscoff cookies and drinking alcoholic beverages on airplanes.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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