May 29, 2022

The Tap Daily

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Grading Domestic Airlines By Their Drink Menus

Revealed: The airline that charges most for in-flight food and drink

There’s nothing better than a strong cocktail being served to you at 36,000 feet in the air. I love flying and I love drinking. So I figured, let’s see what’s the best airline to get absolutely hammered on… For the sake of this article, I’m just going to analyze the best drink offerings for the normal COACH experience. Yes, we all know JetBlue Mint offers a Black Maple Old Fashioned with Orange Peel, but if you’re the type of person dropping $1100 a seat for a domestic flight, you’re probably not the type of person reading this blog. So I’ll keep it to coach. I’m not counting drinks served on U.S. airlines that you use to fly abroad (ex: coach on a Delta flight to France). This is only what can be bought on U.S. airlines, on flights within the U.S. With that being said, let’s dive in and see which airline you should choose if you want to get absolutely tossed (and potentially put on the no-fly list) while cruising to your connection in Denver. 

ALASKA AIRLINES

Alaska Airlines has a decent selection of wines, beers and mixers. Points for featuring Fremont Brewing, a local Seattle brewery. And $7.50 price point (per drink) is actually one of the best I’ve seen. It’s unfortunate they don’t have at least one Signature cocktail, but your mind is pretty free to do what it wants (throw a little Bailey’s in your complimentary Starbucks Pike Place Roast? Don’t mind if I do).

Overall B+ 

ALLEGIANT AIR

For a low cost airline (round trip to Vegas for $18?!?!) Allegiant has an unbelievable alcohol selection. I’ve never seen an airline with an ENTIRE PAGE of dedicated signature cocktails for people in COACH. Some of these combos are unreal, nine bucks for whatever a “Tequila High Ball” is. Stellas, IPAs and even a Chardonnay for $8. They definitely know their market. Great bang for your buck when it comes to mile high drinking. But if you’re really strapped for cash (which you probably are, because you’re flying Allegiant), don’t worry, you can still grab a Keystone Light for a crisp five bucks. 

OVERALL: A

AMERICAN AIRLINES

Because of COVID (and maybe a few “violent” passengers), American Airlines isn’t serving any alcohol on U.S. domestic flights until at least September. Leave it to the few to ruin it for the many.

OVERALL: F

DELTA

Delta has a pretty simple, but well rounded selection. For such a huge airline like Delta, surprisingly, they are pretty hush hush about their menu prices (any info I could find just mentioned that “alcohol prices are increasing by $1 in June 2021”). So going off that, it looks like all our liquor/cocktail options are around $9 per drink, which is industry standard. I like the Tip Top canned cocktails and the inclusion of Finlandia as the vodka choice (not a common one). And if the non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary, then your world is pretty open for creativity (Vodka Crans, anyone?).

OVERALL: B-

FRONTIER

I honestly couldn’t find any info on any food or beverage options currently, or previously ever offered on Frontier. Bottom line, don’t fly Frontier.

OVERALL: F

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES

Hawaiian Airlines resumed in-flight alcohol service June 1st, which is huge. According to their website, Hawaiian Airlines still offers complimentary Mai Tai’s, red & white wine in their Main Cabin, making it the only US airline to offer free alcohol in coach. This factor, as well as $8 premium cocktails and 6.8% locally brewed Maui Brewing Co. IPAs, make Hawaiian the airline of choice if you’re looking to get your buzz on. The only knack is, the route selection is unfortunately pretty limited (you have to be going to… or from… Hawaii). 

OVERALL: A

JETBLUE

As much as I love JetBlue, (fair disclosure, I am a TrueBlue member), it pains me to say that their drink list is average, at best. While they lacklusteringly carry many of the same spirits as the other airlines (the usual Bombay, Jack, Bacardi) they actually have a relatively distinct wine list. The price point is average and they get some points for being the only airline to offer a hard Cider. I think a huge redeeming quality about JetBlue is that all snack items are unlimited and complimentary. The fact that you can just rip 6 bags of Popcorners when you need to curb the inevitable drunchies is a huge plus. 

OVERALL: B

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

After a passenger — 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez, who is now facing felony battery charges — knocked out two front teeth of one of their flight attendants, Southwest Airlines has still suspended their alcohol service, indefinitely. 

OVERALL: F

SPIRIT AIRLINES

Safe selection and around a buck under industry standard. Can’t go wrong with a Heineken or an eight dollar chardonnay. The Jalapeno Pineapple Margarita is certainly quite a concoction. However, an $11 cocktail is where I draw the line (especially because other airlines offer them for so much cheaper). There’s nothing too special here that really sticks out for me and if I’m looking to get fucked up mid-air… I’ll spend my frequent flyer points elsewhere.

OVERALL: C+

UNITED AIRLINES 

Nothing too special here… the fact that all your non-alcoholic options are definitely complimentary makes this a safe, not exciting bet. While the beer selection is robust and on par,  $10 for the premium spirits and liquors is a little steep for me. Amaretto and Glenfarclas?? Ohhh we’re fancy. (But I don’t need to be, I’m flying coach, remember?) Kona and Breckenridge IPA is fantastic, but if you’re looking to get real rowdy, I’d probably fly with someone else. 

OVERALL: C+

Well, there’s our rankings. Unless you’re flying to Hawaii, you’re SOL for free booze in the skies. Cruise Allegiant or Delta for a good time and don’t forget to drink responsibly (seriously… you will get put on the no-fly list).

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