Airports and airlines Make it Easier For Travelers to Get Alcohol

wineLately, experiencing happy hour at 30.000 feet has become easily accessible to travelers, as some airports in the U.S. have started to allow the purchase of alcohol. Also, if you pas through Philadelphia, New York and Seattle you can enjoy a glass of fine wine. This is a apparently an an attempt to boost airport revenue.

“What’s happening is airlines are becoming better retailers of products,” says Jay Sorensen, a consultant, who says the cocktail push by U.S. airlines began during the last year. “They’re doing things to highlight the fact that, ‘Yes, indeed, we do sell alcohol on the airplane.’ They’re trying to mimic what occurs on the ground in terms of consumer promotions.”

There are voices against this trend, as some union leaders and and local officials voice fears of drunken passengers being more trouble then it’s worth, especially in a time when crowded planes and  protest against screening make air-flights stressful.

“It’s too early to know what the effect will be, but making liquor more available to passengers certainly has the potential to create problems for airline workers, both in the terminals and on the aircraft,” Frank Larkin, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, says of increased access to alcohol at airports. “Their job is difficult enough without having to manage unruly passengers made worse by too many drinks.”

Still, profit is the main objective here, as alcohol can bring major revenue to this industry, says Pauline Armbrust, CEO of the magazine Airport Revenue News.

“Alcohol has always played a key role (for) … concessionaires to profit and to pay healthy rents to the airport,” she says, adding that food and beverage sales for the 50 best-performing airports in North America were slightly more than $3 billion in 2009.

There are also extreme case. For example, last month, two AirTran passengers  weren’t allowed to board their flights as they were intoxicated.