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Looking forward to a drink mid-air? You'll have to wait a little longer.

June 16, 2020
3 min read
Looking forward to a drink mid-air? You'll have to wait a little longer.
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If the idea of flying this year has stressed you out, your nerves might benefit from a cocktail or two. But if you haven't traveled since the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S., don't bank on getting a drink on board your next flight: Chances are, your airline may no longer offer alcoholic drink service.

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A number of U.S. airlines including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and other carriers are temporarily suspending in-flight drink service in order to minimize coronavirus exposure and spread, as reported by CBS News. For instance, JetBlue offers pre-sealed plastic bags containing bottled water and two snacks, while travelers flying in JetBlue Mint receive single-serve containers of beer and wine alongside of pre-sealed meal boxes, according to CBS.

Delta told CBS that all alcohol sales have been eliminated from both domestic and international travel to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America, regardless of cabin class. This decision limits "essential onboard food and beverage options in an effort to reduce physical touch points between customers and employees," according to a Delta statement to CBS.

Meanwhile, American Airlines scaled back its food and beverage offerings as far back as March 2020, limiting alcohol to flights of 2,200 miles or longer. In its stead, the airline is exploring the possibility of offering snacks and drinks at departure gates in the near future, according to the press release on the AA website. First- and business class meal service will be served on a single tray instead of in multiple courses.

JetBlue is offering a similar solution: "To minimize physical transactions and service touchpoints, we’ve temporarily replaced our snack baskets and beverage service with a pre-sealed snack and beverage bag," a statement on the airline's Inflight Experience web page reads. "We will not have any buy-onboard products like beer, wine, or liquor, EatUp Boxes, EatUp Café, pillows, blankets and earbuds."

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Beloved U.S. airline Southwest has a similar disclaimer. "Starting May 22, we will begin serving cans of water with straws and a snack mix on flights over 250 miles, when available," the airline's website stated. "Cups and ice will be available upon request. For all other flights, snack and beverage service is still temporarily suspended to limit customer and flight attendant interactions."

United Airlines told TPG that the carrier has been offering pre-packaged, individual services of beer and wine in premium cabins only since late March, also for the same health and hygiene considerations.

Many of these measures impact economy-class travelers only: Premium cabin travelers may have to ask for their drinks instead of having them offered by default, but a limited selection of alcohol is often still available by request. TPG's Brian Kelly recently flew from Newark to Palm Springs on United, and had the option to choose between two beers (Stella Artois and Miller Lite) or wine; no cocktails were available for health safety reasons, according to his flight attendant.

This dry safety measure may feel disappointing, but it's only temporary. As the pandemic eventually subsides and life goes back to normal, airlines will slowly begin phasing alcoholic drinks back into your travel repertoire.

Featured image by (Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

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  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
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  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees