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As airlines continue to trim their budgets, fewer amenities are offered. Free drinks of any kind may soon be endangered. Most U.S. airlines serve free alcoholic beverages to passengers in the first class, and sometimes in the business class cabin. Those in economy must pay for their miniatures.
First class and business class tickets may cost two to three times (or more) as economy class tickets. Most U.S. airlines figure this entitles these passengers to a few more perks, including free drinks. First and business class seating is roomier and while those in the cattle car in the back are paying $3 or $4 US Dollars (USD) for a box containing chips, a stick of beef jerky and a pack of cookies, the first and business class passengers are receiving free gourmet lunches and free alcohol.
These passengers also receive their free drinks straight from the bottle. In economy, miniature bottles of alcohol are sold for about $4 USD apiece, and the airline only stocks a certain amount of bottles of each variety. In first class, the drinks also include the flight attendant mixing cocktails. In economy, when a passenger asks for a Bloody Mary, for instance, he gets a cup of Bloody Mary mix and a miniature of vodka.
Some of these rules change on international flights. Passengers in economy may be able to order free drinks on long flights, and international airlines may offer them to all passengers at all times.
Occasionally, free drinks may be offered as a result of a special occasion. This author was on a flight to Reno, along with a wedding party. The group drank all the vodka miniatures onboard, and the flight crew also gave the happy couple a bottle of champagne normally reserved for first class. It was a nice gesture.
Getting free drinks of the alcoholic variety on a U.S. flight is rare, though, and is likely to become even less common as budget cuts further affect onboard amenities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which airlines offer free alcoholic drinks on flights?
Many full-service international carriers provide complimentary alcoholic beverages on long-haul flights. For example, airlines like Delta, American Airlines, and United offer free beer, wine, and spirits in all classes on international flights. Additionally, premium airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Lufthansa extend this courtesy on both international and some shorter flights. It's always best to check with the airline or read recent traveler reviews for the most current information.
Are alcoholic drinks free in all classes of service?
Free alcoholic drinks are more commonly found in premium cabins such as business or first class. However, many airlines also offer complimentary beer and wine in economy class on international flights. For instance, Air France and KLM provide free wine and beer on long-haul international flights even in economy. Policies can vary by airline and route, so it's advisable to review the in-flight services for your specific flight.
Do budget airlines offer free alcoholic drinks?
Budget airlines typically do not offer free alcoholic drinks as part of their business model, which focuses on low fares and a la carte services. Passengers flying with low-cost carriers like Ryanair, EasyJet, or Spirit Airlines should expect to pay for alcoholic beverages onboard. However, there may be exceptions during special promotions or for passengers with higher-tier frequent flyer status.
Can I get free alcoholic drinks on domestic flights?
Free alcoholic drinks on domestic flights are rare, especially in economy class. However, some airlines may offer complimentary beverages in first or business class, or as a perk for frequent flyers with elite status. For example, Alaska Airlines offers free local craft beers and wines on certain routes. Always check with the airline's in-flight service details before your trip to know what to expect.
Are there any restrictions on consuming free alcoholic drinks on flights?
Airlines have policies in place to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers, which include responsible service of alcohol. Flight attendants are trained to serve alcohol at their discretion and may refuse service to any passenger who appears intoxicated or is behaving disruptively. Additionally, some countries have regulations that limit or prohibit the service of alcohol on inbound or outbound flights, so it's important to be aware of these rules.