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American Airlines joins Southwest in suspending alcohol services following assault on flight attendant

(CNN Business) –

American Airlines has joined Southwest Airlines (LUV) in suspending alcohol services on flights, the airline said on Saturday. The decision follows a recent assault on a Southwest flight attendant that resulted in a serious injury.

“Flight attendants are on the front lines every day to not only keep our customers safe, but also allay fears, answer questions and enforce policies such as face masks required by the federal government,” Brady said. Byrnes, general manager of flight services at American, in a note to flight attendants obtained by CNN.

“Over the past week, we have seen some of these stressors create deeply disruptive situations on airplanes,” the memo reads. “Be clear: American Airlines will not tolerate assault or mistreatment of our crews. ”

Like other airlines, American first suspended alcohol sales in March 2020 to minimize crew-passenger interactions and ensure safer flights.

The airline said services would remain suspended until September 13. The date coincides with the end of the Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate for all aircraft.

The warrant requires masks on all travelers at airports, planes, terminals, trains, buses and ships. It was scheduled to end on May 11, but the TSA extended it until September.

American’s extended suspension on alcohol service comes after the airline restored beverage services, including alcohol, on May 1 to all of its domestic premium cabins.

The airline says alcohol will continue to be offered in first and business class cabins, but only in flight. Alcohol sales were originally scheduled to resume in the airline’s main cabin on June 1, but will remain on hold.

“While we appreciate that customers and crew members are eager to get back to ‘normal’, we will act cautiously and deliberately when restoring pre-COVID practices,” Byrnes said in the memo.

“We also recognize that alcohol can contribute to atypical customer behavior on board and we owe it to our crew not to potentially exacerbate what can already be a new and stressful situation for our customers,” said Byrnes.

On May 23, a passenger from the Southwest was arrested on suspicion of causing serious injury after hitting a flight attendant on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego, according to a statement from the San Diego Port Police Department.

The flight attendant sustained facial injuries and lost two teeth, according to Lyn Montgomery, president of the union that represents Southwest flight attendants.

Following the incident, Southwest made the decision to “re-evaluate the restart of on-board alcohol service” and suspended services indefinitely.

In a statement, United said on Saturday it still serves alcohol on flights longer than two hours.

There have been around 2,500 reports of unruly passenger behavior since the start of the year, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate, the FAA said in a press release Monday.

CNN’s Chris Boyette, Pete Muntean, Gregory Wallace and David Williams contributed to this report.

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