Air travel just got a lot more intoxicating. According to USA Today, airports and airlines are making it easier for travelers to grab a drink before and during flights. For example:
- If you fly American Airlines - and your flight takes off between 5 and 6 PM - you can now buy drinks at discounted “happy hour” prices.
- United Airlines recently offered complimentary wine to people who bought seats in the premium section of their planes.
- Meanwhile, passengers at Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports can now buy drinks 24 hours a day - either from airport bars or from kiosks scattered throughout the terminals.
- At McCarran International in Las Vegas, you’ll soon be able to buy booze from a liquor store built inside the baggage claim area.
You can probably guess why the airline industry is making it so easy to drink and fly: Money! Experts say alcoholic beverages are a tried-and-true way for airlines to bring in cash, and for airport retailers, alcohol represents an easy way to pay the rent. Think about it: Alcoholic beverages rake in more than $3 billion a year at North America’s top airports. Many experts believe there’s plenty of room for alcohol sales to grow. Doug Tomlinson is CEO of Vino Volo, a company that runs wine-tasting lounges exclusively inside airports. He says it’s much more common these days for people to have half an hour or more to spare after they get through security before boarding. So many are choosing to pass that time by grabbing a drink. Is that a good thing? Experts worry that with more people drinking at airports, you’ll see more people being drunk and disorderly during flights.