Southwest, American Airlines temporarily halt alcohol service after rise in passenger violence
DALLAS - At least two major airlines announced they will hold off on serving alcohol during flights after a rise in passenger violence.
"Given the recent uptick in industry-wide incidents of passenger disruptions inflight, we have made the decision to pause the previously announced re-start of alcohol service," Southwest Airlines said in a statement to FOX Television Stations.
"We realize this decision may be disappointing for some customers, but we feel this is the right decision at this time in the interest of the safety and comfort of all Customers and Crew onboard," the statement continued.
Southwest had planned to resume alcohol service beginning next month after it was one of many multiple airlines that suspended the amenity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
American Airlines has also followed suit.
"American suspended alcohol sales in the Main Cabin in late March 2020, and that service will remain suspended through Sept. 13," the airline said in a statement to FOX Television Stations.
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The Federal Aviation Administration said it has received 2,500 complaints from airlines about disruptive passengers this year and has announced proposed civil penalties — some topping $30,000 — against more than a dozen passengers in recent weeks. The passengers can protest the penalties.
Last week, Southwest banned a woman accused of punching a flight attendant in the face. The incident happened shortly after a plane from Sacramento, Calif., landed in San Diego. San Diego Harbor Police arrested Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, and charged her with felony battery.
RELATED: Photos show Southwest Airlines flight attendant pummeled by passenger
The airline said the passenger ignored instructions from the flight attendant before assaulting her. A brief video posted by another person on the flight shows a woman punching the flight attendant and a male passenger interceding to stop the attack.
Police said that Quinonez is 5-foot-5 and 175 lbs. and the flight attendant suffered "serious injuries." The president of her union said she lost two teeth.
Earlier this month, federal officials said they are pursuing civil penalties against two more passengers for interfering with airline crews. The most recent cases involve a passenger who refused to wear a face mask, which is required by federal regulation, and another who cursed flight attendants and the captain after boarding a plane.
RELATED: FAA slaps 2 more travelers with thousands in fines over flight disruptions
Under its zero-tolerance policy announced in January, the FAA says it no longer warns or counsels unruly passengers, it jumps straight to enforcement action. The FAA has power to levy civil penalties but is letting law enforcement decide whether to seek criminal charges against passengers.
The FAA crackdown began around the time supporters of former President Donald Trump created disturbances on several flights to and from Washington. It was to remain in effect until late March, but the agency extended it when the Transportation Security Administration extended its requirement that passengers wear face masks through Sept. 13.
FOX Business and the Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.