Is a single beverage service enough for a 6-hour flight? It will be on American and Alaska

Jan 25, 2022

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You might want to visit Hudson News before your next American or Alaska Airlines flight.

American confirmed to TPG on Monday that it’s no longer serving a second drink service on domestic flights longer than 1,500 miles. The airline is modifying its inflight service procedures at the urging of the APFA flight attendant union APFA “to limit customer touchpoints.” An internal memo about this change was first leaked by Twitter user xJonNYC.

American is pausing the second beverage service on domestic flights in coach through mid-April, at the earliest.

That means that if you’re traveling with American on long domestic routes, say from New York to Los Angeles or from Miami to Phoenix, you’ll be responsible for your own hydration after the single service that flight attendants complete after takeoff. (You can continue to visit the galley to request an additional drink after the first service.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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Whether you’re carrying a reusable water bottle (we recommend a Hydro Flask) or planning a last-minute visit to an airport concessionaire, you’ll definitely want to fill up before boarding begins.

Along with eliminating the second beverage service, American is making a change to the international flight experience as well. While the airline isn’t cutting any offerings, it will plate the appetizer salad and soup course on a single tray in Flagship First.

For now, no other changes are being implemented to American’s onboard experience.

These service updates come as the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) has been demanding reductions in meal and beverage services to limit the interaction with unmasked passengers during meal services.

American Airlines first-class meal in October 2021 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The union wrote in a memo last week, “APFA proposals include serving entreés with salad/soup/appetizers in premium cabins when possible and reducing main cabin beverage services on domestic and IPD flights. We have asked that these reductions in service be implemented immediately.”

The airline confirmed that it’s working together with APFA on its updated service procedures.

“As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to assess ways to thoughtfully return the onboard dining services customers are asking for while keeping safety front and center. We appreciate the APFA’s collaboration as we continue to navigate the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic,” American said in a statement.

Though American is implementing the requested changes, it comes at the expense of a key element of the inflight experience on longer flights.

American’s new Oneworld-alliance partner, Alaska Airlines, is also currently offering just one beverage service in coach, a carrier spokesperson confirmed to TPG. Alaska said its move is temporary and comes out of “care and respect for our employees.”

Meanwhile, American’s major competitors confirmed to TPG that they are continuing to serve a second beverage service on flights longer than 1,500 miles.

Delta and United both told TPG that they continue to offer two beverage services on flights of similar length.

Delta does two full beverage services on flights 1,500 miles and greater, and the second service is offered one hour prior to arrival. In coach, flight attendants also do “water walks” every half hour between services.

United has a second beverage service on domestic flights with a scheduled block time of three hours or more. JetBlue Airways also told TPG that it continues to serve a second beverage on all domestic transcon flights.

So, if you’re looking to stay hydrated aboard an American or Alaska Airlines jet, make sure to fill up before your flight.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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