An in-depth analysis of airplane drinking etiquette

Condé Nast Traveler

MK: But people do want to have that little celebratory glass of wine or champagne, some people need to take the edge off, it shouldn’t be taken away entirely. Is alcohol more effective in the air or on the ground?

AE: I researched that before we sat down and found that it’s not really true, that alcohol hits you harder at high altitudes. With the less oxygen, this is hard to believe. But I’m not a scientist.

CH: Even though I don’t have any scientific proof, it is my opinion that the environment you live in can affect your behavior when you drink. So if you’re in this quiet and cramped, uncomfortable space, and you’re drinking and becoming this bull in a china shop, it’s natural that you’ll feel inclined to rebel against all of these constrictions that are so unpleasant to you—the charitably unintended consequence being making it all the more unpleasant for everybody else, too.

MK: People who travel for business, work, or sleep are all possible. It could be used as a place for work, or as a place to relax in that moment. This is not just a bar.

CH: It would be very costly and would be a poor experience. I have only had one experience with drunk passengers on planes. After we boarded, the airline announced that we would be delayed for an hour. This happened to me as I was returning from Florida. The woman in front of me was plastered, she had gotten drunk in the airport, but as a result she could only sort of haphazardly complain at nobody in particular and if she was cursing I couldn’t even make it out because her enunciation wasn’t there. It wasn’t very interesting, nor was it very disruptive, to have her indignantly shouting into the void—it’s not even a story! She didn’t go far enough, it wasn’t a great performance.

AE: There’s no glory in being drunk on the plane.

MK: To totally flip everything that we’re saying—I’ve been on plenty of flights with screaming babies and rambunctious kids, and you never say anything. You accept that it’s part of the flight and you zone out and mind your business. You let other people do what they want!

CH: Yes! Let them do their thing!

AE: Let’s close by mentioning peeing. This is applicable to both the middle seat as well as the window. If you’re drinking a lot and peeing a lot, then you’re making your seatmates get up. But maybe that’s a personal factor—that I don’t want to make people get up for me. I actually take back what I said. I’d be flying everywhere if I didn’t have a small bladder.

MK: Yes. I have even wondered if I would need coffee at the airport.

CH: You people are so considerate—I’m having my coffee, I’m having my wine. I always sit in the aisle.

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