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Airlines Cut Back Food Options Drastically in Response to COVID-19

New restrictions on in-flight meal and drink service go into effect today. Yes, that means no booze.

Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

If you can avoid it at all, don’t fly. Cancel your tickets (you can! It’s fine!), unpack your suitcase, and stay home for a bit in an effort to “flatten the curve” and curb the spread of COVID-19. But in case you still need to take that trip, know this: America’s airlines are also adjusting to new realities, and a number of major domestic airlines have announced changes to their in-flight food and beverage service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Which means, despite how badly you might need some right now, you probably can’t get any alcohol on a plane.

Southwest Airlines is taking some of the most drastic measures, cancelling snack and drink service on all flights, short or long. Alaska Airlines, too, is nixing all food and drink on shorter flights under 250 miles and offering just snacks, water, canned drinks, and juice on anything longer. No hot drinks, no booze.

American Airlines is suspending food service on all flights shorter than 2,200 miles or 4 ½ hours, no matter the cabin class, and offering only a handful of drinks “on request” including water, canned drinks, and juice. For longer flights, alcohol is being restricted to first class unless you’re flying international, and food and snacks are a no-go. For super long-haul international flights, there’ll be one meal offered, but even in first class, this’ll be single-course tray service.

Perennial favorite Delta is still offering two snacks on all flights (thank the lord, Biscoff remains!), but drink options are limited to bottled water — no ice — in all cabins. Flights longer than 900 miles will still offer a meal, but it will be something pre-packaged, and no fancy porcelain dishware or glass champagne flutes, either. It’s disposable plastics only.

Right now Jet Blue is doing a single water and snack service each flight, nothing more. And United hasn’t announced any major new plans this week, but they continue to refuse cup refills (only fresh cups for you, which will be handed to you by a gloved flight attendant).

But again, none of this should matter for most of us, anyway, because we should if at all possible be staying close to home — or better yet, inside it. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to try those James Beard-American Airlines partnership meals one day, when this is all over.