Cheers: Delta resumes limited alcohol service with beer and wine

Jul 1, 2020

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Each of the major U.S. carriers is taking a different approach to reassuring customers that flying is safe. While all airlines are requiring masks — and many in Europe are — some are taking it a step further. These safety measures include capping capacity, modifying boarding procedures and reducing onboard service touchpoints to minimize interactions.

Delta’s safety standards are some of the most robust in the industry. As part of the Atlanta-based carrier’s coronavirus response, it stopped most inflight food and beverage options in late March. Instead, passengers are given a snack pack with individually bottled waters depending on flight length and class of service.

As travel slowly starts to rebound, Delta is beginning the process of reintroducing some of the suspended service elements. And that starts with alcohol.

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Beginning 2 July, domestic first class and Comfort+ customers can enjoy complimentary beer and wine on all flights greater than 500 miles. The selection will include single-serve red and white wine, as well as Heineken, Miller Lite, SweetWater 420 and SweetWater IPA. Though the rollout begins on 2 July, it’ll take the entire month for the beverages to appear on all eligible domestic flights.

Delta’s inflight beer selection (Photo courtesy of Delta)

To minimize touchpoints, these individually-packaged drinks are going to be presented on trays with plastic cups available by request.

While this is great news for those adults who’ve missed alcohol service, note that the selection will currently be limited to beer and wine only. Delta explains that this is just the “first step” to reintroducing a more “normalized” onboard service, with more improvements likely on their way soon. If you’re missing your favourite cocktail, you’ll have to wait a little longer since you can’t consume your own liquor on board.

As for non-alcoholic refreshments, Delta isn’t yet ready to restore complimentary soft drinks, tea or coffee service. Likewise, all domestic and international flights to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America will still feature pre-packaged snack service only. All other international flights feature a full selection of beverage offerings and hot, prepared food service.

Related: We got an inside look at how Delta is cleaning planes between every flight

Delta’s limited onboard service matches the stringent safety measures it’s taking to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. (It also helps save the carrier some cash, too.)

Delta’s two top competitors — American Airlines and United — haven’t modified their inflight service nearly as much. American still offers regular alcohol service on all flights in first class. United has eliminated poured alcohol across the board and instead serves single-serve cans of beer and wine.

Delta One meal service pre-coronavirus (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Of all domestic flights, you’ll notice the largest difference in onboard food service on premium transcontinental flights between the New York area and Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the forward cabin, AA and UA still serve hot meals, but they’re being served on one tray. Delta and JetBlue have abandoned hot food service in favour of pre-packaged snack packs.

Nonetheless, Delta’s latest announcement that it will restart select alcohol service is a welcome improvement for flyers. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the other aspects of the onboard service return in a safe manner.

Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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