This Beloved Item Has Been Banned From Flights, Thanks to COVID-19

As if the stresses of traveling weren't already bad enough, this one midair ritual has been grounded.

While flying isn't the first thing on most people's minds in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the airline industry is still up and running, even if not at full speed. And even though new boarding procedures, nearly empty flights, and mandatory face masks may be a new experience for travelers, there's another big change that's perhaps even more sobering—literally. One of the most beloved midair rituals is disappearing: Major airlines recently announced that they will stop serving alcoholic beverages on many flights, thanks to COVID-19, CNN reports.

Airlines such as American and Delta in the U.S., KLM and Easyjet in Europe, and Virgin Australia have announced revamped in-flight service of hard beverages on many of their routes. Executives made the decision in an effort to protect flight crews and other flyers from prolonged exposure to passengers who could potentially be contagious. The changes also aim to ensure that passengers spend more time wearing their mandatory face masks rather than sipping their cocktails.

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So how exactly is flight service changing in terms of alcohol? Passengers flying domestic routes with Delta shouldn't look forward to any mid-flight alcoholic beverages, but can still sip on beer, wine, or spirits if they're flying internationally. Similarly, American Airlines is altering all food and beverage service depending on the length of each flight, but will only be serving alcohol on long international flights—and in first class, naturally.

KLM is carrying over many of the same booze-free policies: Instead of in-flight drink cart service, passengers can expect to find their refreshments for the trip waiting for them at their seat when they board. And Virgin Atlantic's completely dry flights will supply travelers with "Health Packs," containing hand sanitizer, face masks, and disinfecting wipes.

man pouring more beer into his cup on the plane

While midair libations will be sorely missed by many, you can still prepare for your next flight's pared-down service by stocking up on bottled beverages and snacks in the terminal before you board.

And there's at least one upside: At least you won't be arriving at your destination with a killer hangover. And for more on the changing ways we're taking to the skies, check out 13 Things You May Never See on Airplanes Again After Coronavirus.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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