RICH THOMASELLI | TravelPulse.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Travel
United Airlines, which resumed sales of hard liquor onboard flights on November 15, has now returned its tradition of pre-departure Welcome Beverages to premium cabin customers.
And its flight attendant union isn’t happy about it, albeit not for the reason you might think.
No, this is less about more alcohol in a era where its prevalence has led to numerous altercations on flights, and more about COVID-19 safety.
In a story by Matthew Klint of the aviation blog Live and Let’s Fly, the union is concerned about serving passengers in the premium cabin who are taking their masks off to drink as others board. And, starting December 1, those drinks will be served in glassware, heightening the fears over transmission of the virus.
“Lest our objection to the return of this service become mischaracterized, we want to say upfront, this is not about Flight Attendants not wanting to offer this service to passengers on the aircraft. None of the employees of United Airlines more than Flight Attendants wants to return to a sense of normal on the aircraft, sooner rather than later,” the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) said in a statement to Live and Let’s Fly. “Testing of the procedures to return the Welcome Beverage to the cabin occurred in August of this year on two routes out of SFO. We immediately raised our concern to management over the return of this service identifying the closer proximity to passengers that Flight Attendants would be placed in while shuffling around boarding passengers and their baggage in our effort to deliver this service.”
That includes concern for passengers boarding the flight wearing masks who will walk past unmasked guests as they sip their beverages.
“This “visual” created stands in stark contradiction to the messages to which passengers have been exposed prior to boarding about the need to keep your nose and mouth covered with a mask due to federal regulations,” the AFA said. “We have expressed concern that this will only present additional challenges for Flight Attendants seeking to gain compliance with the Federal Mask Mandate.”
It does not appear United will backtrack. The Welcome Beverage returned today, November 23, on all mainline flights.
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