It has been a thirsty few months for many Delta Air Lines passengers. The airline scrapped alcohol on its US domestic flights back in March. The move was part of broader cuts to inflight services to curtail the spread of COVID-19. But in a piece of passenger pleasing news, Delta is reintroducing alcohol on its US domestic flights from July 2.
Delta reverses a controversial inflight cutback
The decision to cut inflight services on many airlines was controversial. While ostensibly done in the name of COVID-19, many passengers saw it as a cynical cost-cutting move. Others pointed out inconsistencies in the application of policies and appropriate hygiene practices.
“Not surprising. Until an aid package of some sort is passed and people/businesses start traveling again, Delta (and the others) are just hemorrhaging cash,” said one contributor in an online forum back in March.
“My concern here is that these cuts are made for financial/cost control reasons, rather than health,” said another contributor.
But Delta has always maintained the decision was all about keeping passengers safe and halting the spread of COVID-19.
Passenger safety was the primary objective, said Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, in March. To that end, food and beverage inflight offerings were cutback to minimize interactions and touchpoints between passengers and crew.
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What’s on the drinks list?
Three months later, Delta has a change of heart. A selected range of alcohol will be available from July 2 on flights over 500 miles. The drinks will be complimentary in both first class and Delta comfort plus. Alcohol will be available for purchase in the main cabin.
On offer will be single-serve red and wine bottle, Heineken, Miller Lite, SweetWater 420, and SweetWater IPA. The drinks will be served on trays to minimize touchpoints.
“We take pride in always listening to our customers, and we know beer and wine are the adult beverages our customers want most. These selections are the first step towards a normalized beverage offering while we continue to keep and crew safety at the center of everything we do,” said Allison Ausband, senior vice president of inflight service at Delta.
Why Delta is reintroducing inflight alcohol service
Two considerations are driving this decision. Firstly, many Delta passengers wanted an inflight drinks service to resume. Secondly, Delta has developed a serving procedure that minimizes touchpoints. If all goes well, reintroducing alcohol will be the first step to normalizing the food and beverage service on Delta. Foodwise, for the time being, passengers in all cabins on US domestic flights will continue to receive individual snack bags.
There is no word on the return of proper glassware in the premium cabins. For the time being, it looks like your single-serve Californian Chardy will come with a plastic glass.
Drinks continue to flow for long haul Delta flyers
Meanwhile, complimentary beer, wine, and cocktails remain available to passengers in all cabins on long-haul Delta flights.
Delta is ramping up its long-haul flying. Flights from Boston to Amsterdam, Seattle to Amsterdam, Detroit to Paris, Los Angeles to Sydney, and Atlanta to Seoul are resuming soon. Overall, Delta Air Lines is adding 1,000 flights network-wide in July.
In doing so, Delta says it will not be taking its eye off good inflight hygiene and its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Joe Esposito, senior vice president of network planning at Delta said today;
“Confidence in a safe travel experience is key to a successful recovery. While we’re rebuilding our network at home and abroad, it’s even more critical that we provide the highest industry standard of safety, space, and clean, so when our customers are ready to travel again, we’re ready for them.”