Alcoholic beverage service in F vs MCE

Old Sep 3, 19, 6:59 pm
  #1  
PHL
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: PHL, NYC
Programs: AA PLT, DL SLV, UA SLV, MR LTT, HH DIA
Posts: 8,447
Alcoholic beverage service in F vs MCE

First, Business and Main Cabin Extra all share a common benefit - complimentary alcoholic beverages. This includes beer, wine and spirits. This published benefit doesn't appear to differ any of those cabins of services in terms of limitations of types of beverages or specified hard limits.

However, it seems more and more obvious to me that the FAs serving MCE are less "willing" to serve more than 2, maybe 3 drinks to an MCE passenger whereas on the same flight in First class the drinks would be more liberally served.

Case in point - I'm not a heavy drinker by any means, and I never have boarded a plane in any state of intoxication. But after sometimes a long, challenging week at work, I want to decompress on my ride home. I also don't drive home from the airport. I always have a ride arranged.

This past year, I often fly the same route and flight number(s) 2-3 times per month and am either in MCE or First on mainline flights. When I'm in F, there is never any issue asking for a refill. When I'm done, I'm done. I'll sip and nurse my last drink and just relax and watch my tablet.

When I'm in MCE, at the initial drink service I'll usually ask for 2 minis with the mixer because I know they don't tend to the cabin like the F FA would, so I figure I'm helping them by not pressing the call button later. But then I feel like I get a less than warm response. Recently in MCE when giving me the 2 minis, the FA said under her breath as she's turning way from me "that'll be all I can give you". In other flights in the past, when I would ask for a 3rd mini during a bathroom break at the rear galley, I've been told "ok, but this is the last one I can give you.". It's gotten to the point that I think they're just annoyed to have to break out the cart again to serve the customer.

In over 20 years of flying an assortment flights in First, an FA has never cut me off after 2 or given me a stern warning after 3. I'm 215lb, 5'11", so 3 for me in a 2 hour period relaxes me, but in no way is putting me in the "drunk" zone.

Back to my opening sentence - if First/Business/MCE all state the same beverage policy (i.e. no hard limits other than an FA's discretion), why are MCE passengers seemingly given a limit? Or are my experiences just isolated to me?
PHL is offline  
Old Sep 3, 19, 8:40 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: ATL/MCO
Programs: Free agent
Posts: 3,307
Never had a problem with alcohol in domestic MCE, I just happen to be extremely lucky with crews that proactively give me two minis. If given only one I'll go to the back galley where they'll usually give me another drink without attitude. They don't however like handing me the Titos and the mixer directly, but rather bring it to my seat.

In your experience I believe they cut you as they're too lazy to open the cart again as you said.
miamiflyer8 is offline  
Old Sep 3, 19, 11:01 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: PHL (kinda, no airport is really close)
Programs: AA PPro. Enterprise Platinum woo-hoo!
Posts: 3,052
I was in MCE last month. Guy in the window seat, his girlfriend sleeping in the middle, asked for two Heinikens. FA said limit of one per person and as his GF was alseep, she couldn't have one. Guy was ready to pay, so I guess he didn't know about the MCE benefit.

I ordered a Heiniken too and passed it to him as soon as the FA moved the cart.

I rarely drink so the booze issue is irrelevant to me personally.
formeraa, bbbb, trooper and 1 others like this.
redtop43 is offline  
Old Sep 3, 19, 11:34 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: STL/ORD/SAN
Programs: AA EXP, AS MVPG75K, accidental DL FO, HH Diamond, Marriott Gold
Posts: 1,088
I'd suggest trying to find a way to get into F if you really want to knock back a few. Particularly with AA lately, FAs (and other staff) seem more emboldened than ever to provide poor service... and if they don't like your request or the way you make it, you may just find yourself meeting the local airport police when you land.

While that may seem ridiculous and extreme, AA has what must be one of the most sour groups of employees anywhere, in any industry, these days, and it seems like it doesn't take much for them to break down and lose all control... have witnessed it myself.

If I were faced with this situation and had to fly a route where F was sold out or was ridiculously priced or whatever, honestly I'd probably consider flying another airline, because service in Y is often simply inadequate. Your other option would be to tie one on in the lounge beforehand, if a nice end of week buzz is your primary objective.
enviroian, wetrat0 and wylek like this.
metallo is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 4:58 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Boston, USA
Programs: AA EXP, TK Elite, HH Gold, SPG/Marriott Gold
Posts: 849
I would suggest removing free alcohol benefits from as many as possible ! OP maybe an exception but many travelers do not know their limits. I do not see any benefits of providing free alcohol to customers...It only adds to troubles !
flyalways is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 6:44 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: USA
Programs: AA Plat, DL WFBF, National Emerald Club, Global Entry, CSR, IHG Gold
Posts: 1,403
I really do think it's mostly that they don't want to be bothered.

Every time some kind of benefit is added there is a lot of grumbling on the part of FAs that they have to do "more work". Remember when they added the alcohol benefit and the dedicated overhead bins to MCE, they also (sensibly) said that people who didn't buy MCE wouldn't be allowed to move into an empty MCE seat after boarding was closed. FAs flipped out about having to do more work and management quickly announced that they wouldn't actually be expected to enforce the rule. That of course led to our favorite points and miles bloggers writing stories like "AA says you can upgrade yourself for free to any available MCE seat and get unlimited booze!"

The AA work groups (especially LAA as opposed to LUS) are a uniquely sour bunch. It's not a union thing either. Southwest FAs are unionized and they always walk up and down the aisles asking if they can get you anything else (their management actually had a "mild crackdown" on the FAs because they were too eager to give out free booze as they were notorious for not collecting the little coupons after you ordered, which was costing the company a lot of money).
wylek and atbPy like this.
wetrat0 is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 7:13 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Roswell, GA
Programs: AA EXP 2.8m,Lifetime PLT, Hilton Diamond, IHG PlLT, SPG Gold
Posts: 1,884
I have noticed that on the AA benefits page on-line now says Drink and not drinks...
but, also I think the fight crew has a lot to do with the level of service etc you will get.
My wife and I had a very bad and I mean very bad FA on a DFW to HKG, who on is own opted to tell my wife that after 2 glasses of bubbles, he felt she had enough?
really on a 16 hour flight...
fotographer is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 7:21 am
  #8  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 12,338
Very FA dependent. Some after doing the service just don't like to be bothered. I also had a FA try to charge me a few weeks ago in MCE and when I pointed out the benefit she made a smart aleck, particularly as the guy in the aisle had his cc out and ready to be charged.
newyorkgeorge is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 8:24 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Programs: AA Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 1
Long time lurker but I figured I'd chime in.

As time has gone on I've had more issues with MCE's alcohol service. Some recent highlights have included:
  1. Sitting in a bulkhead seat and being told alcohol wasn't loaded on the flight - of course I could see beverage service in first a few seats away
  2. Knowing that service would come through only once, asking for two nips. That was promptly rejected with a huff from the FA. The FA on the other side of the cart later apologized (but no offer of another drink!)
  3. The latest was an award ticket last week. The FA refused service and basically inferred that I was a Basic Economy passenger who was placed in this seat (and not eligible for the free drinks?) Offers to share my boarding pass w/group number or AA status card were refused. Likewise, I refused the drink or to pay for it.
In the long run these are minor, but still frustrating. I'm still waiting to encounter an FA that says MCE doesn't include complimentary drinks. But I supposed they've gotten a bit better on that end.
DCAAlex is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 8:27 am
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Frisco, TX
Programs: The Airline Run by Doug P
Posts: 17,804
Originally Posted by DCAAlex View Post
Long time lurker but I figured I'd chime in.

As time has gone on I've had more issues with MCE's alcohol service. Some recent highlights have included:
  1. Sitting in a bulkhead seat and being told alcohol wasn't loaded on the flight - of course I could see beverage service in first a few seats away
  2. Knowing that service would come through only once, asking for two nips. That was promptly rejected with a huff from the FA. The FA on the other side of the cart later apologized (but no offer of another drink!)
  3. The latest was an award ticket last week. The FA refused service and basically inferred that I was a Basic Economy passenger who was placed in this seat (and not eligible for the free drinks?) Offers to share my boarding pass w/group number or AA status card were refused. Likewise, I refused the drink or to pay for it.
In the long run these are minor, but still frustrating. I'm still waiting to encounter an FA that says MCE doesn't include complimentary drinks. But I supposed they've gotten a bit better on that end.
agree all the way around. Lazy AA flight attendants hate to come to a Y passenger and get them another drink especially when you have to ring the call button. "Published benefit" doesn't mean jack to their mood. It is frowned up by the lazy flight attendants compared to the F cabin where it's no big deal.

This is especially true if you are at the bulkhead of Y and they have to truck all the way up the aisle to get you a drink. I've had horrible experiences.
enviroian is online now  
Old Sep 4, 19, 8:49 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: USA
Programs: AA Plat, DL WFBF, National Emerald Club, Global Entry, CSR, IHG Gold
Posts: 1,403
Vote with your wallet. I had a lovely experience on Delta this weekend, and I'll be signing up for their status challenge soon.
wetrat0 is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 8:58 am
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 12,338
IDK if the "horrible Y experience" is AA specific albeit AA appears far worse than DL, UA and WN. When management decides to squeeze more and more seats in and charge for more and more to a FA mind (particularly a young one) it says we just don't care about Y paxs. They're getting a cheap ticket and are really nothing more than a bother and a drag on the airline. Of course AA's dismal operational performance and decision to rip out/not install AVOD only makes an even greater impression.

In the end Wal Mart prices get you a Wal Mart experience. Unfortunately many of those Y paxs aren't paying Wal Mart prices and some are very profitable to the airline (CKs, EXP, PPs aren't always riding in premium) and that's what AA management seems to miss.
newyorkgeorge is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 9:26 am
  #13  

2019 Secret Santa
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: PHL
Programs: AA Plat Plus, WN CP, HH Gold, Marriot Plat
Posts: 1,274
Originally Posted by wetrat0 View Post
Vote with your wallet. I had a lovely experience on Delta this weekend, and I'll be signing up for their status challenge soon.
I miss flying Delta so much compared with the AA experience. I wish they would compete at PHL for more direct routes.
timmy83 is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 9:31 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: AUS
Programs: AA PPro (12yr EXP) - 1.99 MM, Admirals Club, Hilton Diamond, Marriott PlatElite, National Executive
Posts: 1,352
Total hit or miss. I rarely ask for two, but sometimes on longer flights I'll ask an FA for another and they usually happily comply. I typically drink the red wine when in coach as it's just easier than mixing drinks. I probably should be more proactive and just ask for two at time of ordering.
BrianV is offline  
Old Sep 4, 19, 10:26 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: LA
Programs: AA Plat Pro, SPG/Marriott Titanium, Hilton Gold
Posts: 251
I had a great crew over the weekend flying RT LAX-BNA. On the flight to Nashville, the cart came down 3 times and on the flight back the cart was brought twice. I saw multiple people have multiple orders of alcohol with no issue. The crew to Nashville was especially great and attentive. They walked the aisle with the trashbag a bunch of times too.
chenalex is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread