I'm not an alcoholic, but...
November 1, 2006 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Which airlines or routes give out free liquor?

I remember several flights I've been on that seved free alcohol. Some flights gave out small bottles of wine, and others even let you request minibottles of baileys or something. I don't remember exactly which flights these were. Were they a specific airline, or route?
posted by lpctstr; to Travel & Transportation (40 answers total)
Most carriers used to give free beer and wine on international flights only. Not sure if that's still the case anymore. (You used to be able to smoke on international flights too.)
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:23 AM on November 1, 2006

british airways still gives out mini bottles of wine, dunno about liquor.
posted by chelseagirl at 7:27 AM on November 1, 2006

First Class on most carriers still brings you the perk of free booze. It's the only thing that makes all my work travel tolerable.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:28 AM on November 1, 2006

My experience has been that it's rare for American carriers to do so, but common for European and English carriers. Last time I flied with them, Lufthansa, Virgin, and British Airways all gave you the booze. Delta charged for it.
posted by condour75 at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2006

Air Canada gives out free beer & liquor in their lounges. Fly business class. Or get Elite status. They don't sell day passes to their lounges.

Man, back in the day... I drank a lot in AC lounges. Sweet, sweet dot-com bubble.
posted by GuyZero at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2006

I imagine pretty much all airlines will give you free booze if you're in first or business class. I know Emirates at least gives you free alcohol in all classes (this is on London-Dubai trips).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2006

I've had free beer and champagne on Lufthansa but I don't know whether that is policy or some sort of promotion. And that was on a standard ticket.
posted by fire&wings at 7:41 AM on November 1, 2006

As others have said, free drinks in business/first is standard. There are a few exceptions, mainly on a few airlines based in Islamic countries. For example, Saudi Arabian Airlines has no alcohol.

In coach, most US-based airlines got rid of free alcohol years ago. There is at least one hold out: there are still complimentary beer/wine on the Delta shuttle. The US Airways Shuttle used to be the same, but now that I check, it looks like that perk has gone away.

(Concur with GuyZero... as far as lounges go, the AC Maple Leaf lounges are probably the best lounges in North America for alcohol. It's free [once you've purchased lounge access one way or another], they have a nice selection, and you can help yourself.)
posted by blue mustard at 7:45 AM on November 1, 2006

Haven't flown in the last year but BA were pretty good for doling out the booze, even in cattle, you usually had to ask for spirits but they were in the trolley with the wine and soft drinks.
Most disappointing: Business class in Air France: 2 glasses champage on 8 hour trip. Wankers. I've had more from BA in a 1 hour flight.
posted by biffa at 7:48 AM on November 1, 2006

Every non-American carrier I've taken an international flight on has given me free alcohol. American carriers used to, then cut it down to only international and now most have cut it out completely, though I've been told that a few still do.

I'm not sure how this works with code-shares between American and non-American airlines. I'm assuming they'd just follow the policies of the airline whose metal you're flying on.
posted by atomly at 7:49 AM on November 1, 2006

Free beer and wine on Virgin Atlantic coach class, but not liquor. I'm flying Chicago - London on United today, so I'll report back.
posted by crabintheocean at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2006

International flights (i.e. between US and Europe) in coach will generally give you the choice to have an alcoholic drink rather than, say, a Coke, as often as they come around with drinks.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:59 AM on November 1, 2006

Air France gives out complimentary champagne.
posted by four panels at 8:20 AM on November 1, 2006

On the west coast, Horizon has free microbrews and regional wines. Alaska will give you no free booze, which is uncalled for when you're flying to Fairbanks or Anchorage from the lower 48.
posted by lilithim at 8:23 AM on November 1, 2006

Delta, even on their international flights, only gives out free alcohol when the meal is served. Lufthansa will give you all the beer you can drink in economy, and I think the policy is the same for liquor.
posted by cmonkey at 8:24 AM on November 1, 2006

Yup -- I flew Lufthansa economy from California to Germany a couple weeks ago and they had free wine, beer, and spirits.
posted by amery at 8:31 AM on November 1, 2006

most airlines give you free booze on trips to europe. well, the european airlines do.
posted by krautland at 8:46 AM on November 1, 2006

Korean Air flights across the Pacific serve wine with the meals in economy class. At least they still were the last time I flew with them (but that was several years ago).
posted by Rash at 9:11 AM on November 1, 2006

My observations (based on travelling about 100k miles in the last year) is that NO complimentary alcohol is available for any domestic U.S. flights. The charge is usually $5.

However, free wine (always) and liquor (sometimes, more rare) is available on international flights regardless of the carrier. However the US airlines seem to be stingier about it. I noticed this when I had to jump from a United to a Lufthansa flight. Flights within Europe also include complimentary wine.

(Of course the best thing was the onboard Wi-Fi offered by Luifthansa)

Yes of course you can have all you want if you fly First or Business but I take that as a given in this question.
posted by vacapinta at 9:46 AM on November 1, 2006

Second the Horizon comment. When flying from Seattle to central washington you got to choose either the microbrew or wine.
posted by nadawi at 10:22 AM on November 1, 2006

crabintheocean - You won't get complimentary drinks on your flight. United mainline offers complimentary drinks only in first and business class. The exceptions are international flights to and within north and south Asia and, iirc, the United p.s. ("Premium Service") flights. You *might* get lucky and have flight attendants offer free wine that is left over from the first and business service. (If I'm not mistaken, airlines have to pay duty on unconsumed, opened wine.)
posted by nathan_teske at 10:24 AM on November 1, 2006

the AC Maple Leaf lounges are probably the best lounges in North America for alcohol. It's free [once you've purchased lounge access one way or another], they have a nice selection, and you can help yourself.

I forgot to mention that and it bears repeating for the actual alcoholics in the crowd.

AC Maple Leaf Lounges are self-service. You can show up 8 hours early for your flight and drain the beer keg before you move on to the hard liquor and then have some wine. They may not put the beer out first thing in the morning, but they have it before lunch I'm pretty sure.

It is one hell of a deal.
posted by GuyZero at 11:15 AM on November 1, 2006

Iberia gives you wine on their flights.
posted by JJ86 at 11:29 AM on November 1, 2006

Air New Zealand offered wine with meals.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 12:39 PM on November 1, 2006

If I recall correctly, United only serves complimentary alcohol in coach on its trans-pacific flights and no longer serves complimentary booze on its trans-atlantic routes. Air Canada serves free booze (at meals and when the beverage cart comes around) on all flights leaving North America. I know that Air New Zealand serves wine with dinner and would imagine that wine is available during beverage service; however, I'm just not a drinker on such long, long flights.

As loads of people noted above, European carriers tend to pour fast and furious!
posted by lumiere at 2:04 PM on November 1, 2006

Air France serves free booze with meals in coach. I recently flew SFO to Paris (and back) and had a pre-meal champagne, wine during the meal and a post meal brandy as well. Possibly wine is available during regular beverage service as the man across the aisle from me always seemed to have some.
posted by marylynn at 3:39 PM on November 1, 2006

Air Canada serves free booze on all flights leaving NA, as stated above, and I'm just about to board a JAL flight back home, on which more booze will be served for free. I feel like such shit I need it.

Then again, people have been drinking in the terminal since 9am. I've been up for about 36 hours.
posted by avocet at 5:20 PM on November 1, 2006

LAN Chile gives you plenty of wine with their meals.
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:58 PM on November 1, 2006

US Airways gives you a soda and a fucking bag of pretzels.

In First Class.
posted by drstein at 12:00 AM on November 2, 2006

Last time I flew Air Canada for the London->Toronto route, the dude next to me got like 5 or 6 little minibottles of booze for free. Rum, whiskey, southern comfort, you name it. "For cooking", he said. :)
posted by antifuse at 2:52 AM on November 2, 2006

drstein, are you sure you flew US Airways? First on US has a choice of beverage, including booze, even on flights where coach doesn't get a choice. And flights without a meal have the snack basket, which includes pretzels, but also other snack items.
posted by blue mustard at 4:23 AM on November 2, 2006

The Asian airlines that I've flown on (Korean, Thai, Eva) all had free beer and wine and I'm pretty sure you could get whiskey & cokes and those kind of standard mixed drinks, too.
These were routes in-between Asian countries and trans-Pacific
posted by shokod at 1:36 PM on November 2, 2006

I've flown first class on US Airways and also gotten free booze. The snack basket also has chips, peanuts and some surprisingly good cracker biscuit things.
posted by Carol O at 4:34 PM on November 2, 2006

blue mustard: Uh, yeah, I'm very sure. I have the boarding pass sitting on my desk. I even paid the extra $50 for the First Class upgrade. I got exactly one soda and a bag of pretzels.

US Airways has cut back on things after gobbling up America West. I actually got decent service on America West.

The girlfriend and I got bumped up into First Class on a Northwest flight to Minneapolis one time, and we got a decent meal and free wine.
posted by drstein at 10:58 PM on November 4, 2006

Weird, I fly US nearly every week and I've never been refused booze in F. Did you ask for alcohol, and if so, did the flight attendant give as a reason for refusing? US's F service is finally showing slow signs of recovery after cutbacks during bankruptcy and subsequent merger but the once thing that never was cutback was free alcohol.
posted by blue mustard at 7:36 AM on November 5, 2006

oops, once->one
posted by blue mustard at 7:39 AM on November 5, 2006

blue mustard: Perhaps it depends on where you're flying? I was going from Las Vegas, NV to San Jose, CA. It's a fairly short flight, so it's possible that they just didn't stock anything else.
posted by drstein at 6:44 PM on November 5, 2006

I took a flight from Chicago to Buenos Aires on Lan Chile and had model-gorgeous stewardesses serve me glass after glass of some shockingly good Chilean wine. Best 12 hours I've ever spent in the air. Great pasta dinner as well. And then I flew back on United and had to pay $7 to get a box of pre-packaged snacks.
posted by caveatz at 4:10 PM on November 6, 2006

airlinemeals.net deals of course with food and not drinks per se but it might also provide you with a decent idea of what to expect - you know - kind of like drawing conclusions about a restaurants shellfish by how you like their bathrooms...

US Airways gives you a soda and a fucking bag of pretzels.

well, duh. they're us-fucking-airways. they don't give a flying fuck about their customers. surprisingly enough, I have just seen an internal delta presentation of their next ad blitz. seems like they will begin highlighting superior service. we'll have to see what that means for the actual product.
posted by krautland at 8:21 PM on November 6, 2006

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