US Lounges Alcohol Policy

Old Dec 5, 06, 2:29 pm
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US Lounges Alcohol Policy

A question that may or may not be of much concern to many here, however what is the alcohol policy for passengers under the age of 21 (who would legally be allowed to drink in the UK) visiting the lounges in the US. Though drinks are served onboard, I ask if the lounges honor the federal law of not allowing drinks unless age is proven to be above 21?

Many thanks,

Danny K
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Old Dec 5, 06, 2:39 pm
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It has been a long time since I was of an age where I have had to provide proof of age. ( its nickname in the us is "carding" as in asking for a card with proof of age). All of the clubs should follow the 21 minimum age requirement, but I can't say that I have seen bartenders ask for ID. Where there are self serve bars, I don't think this is a question.
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Old Dec 5, 06, 3:04 pm
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Spent a wonderful hour in the YVR lounge with my then 16yo son. Under Canadian law, he was not allowed to approach the bar area where alcohol, snacks and soft drinks were available.

He had great fun teasing the dragon, seeing how close he could get before she leapt upon him and stealing the odd Sprite from the bar when she wasn't watching (there was also a 5 year old wandering around that caused her to have palpitations whenever said child got within 5m of the bar). He only drank lemonade, but the thought that he wasn't supposed to get it on his own made it taste all the sweeter.

Of couse as soon as we got on board, the BA crew plied him with champagne which he accepted with great aplomb!
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Old Dec 5, 06, 3:48 pm
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Originally Posted by dsk7 View Post
... I ask if the lounges honor the federal law of not allowing drinks unless age is proven to be above 21?
Several airline lounges have lost their liquor license for a few days due to serving underage customers ... I think most lounges take this issue quite seriously, even if they are discreet about carding. This is one area of US law that tends to be strictly enforced. The BA DFW lounge has removed its self-serve bar (replaced by a shelf of empty bottles, and a sign to ask the lounge attendant for the actual bottle contents).
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Old Dec 5, 06, 5:01 pm
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It's a function of the liquor laws of the state in which the lounge is located, not federal law. Most states now prohibit drinking by anyone under 21. Washington (SEA) goes that one better and prohibits self-serve alcohol in the lounge for anybody--you have to have your drink delivered to you by one of the attendants.
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Old Dec 5, 06, 5:53 pm
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Originally Posted by chucko View Post
It's a function of the liquor laws of the state in which the lounge is located, not federal law. Most states now prohibit drinking by anyone under 21. Washington (SEA) goes that one better and prohibits self-serve alcohol in the lounge for anybody--you have to have your drink delivered to you by one of the attendants.
Wasn't it federal coercion that forced most states to raise the drinking age to 21. It was either "raise the drinking age or we'll withhold highway transportation funds". I think it started some 20+ years ago and currently all states are in compliance?
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Old Dec 5, 06, 7:04 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
Wasn't it federal coercion that forced most states to raise the drinking age to 21. It was either "raise the drinking age or we'll withhold highway transportation funds". I think it started some 20+ years ago and currently all states are in compliance?
Indeed. However, contrary to popular belief, many states don't have absolute minimum drinking ages. Depending on the situation, minors may be permitted to drink alcohol. It is against the law in all 50 states for minors to purchase alcohol.

In some states, minors may drink alcohol with parental supervision and parental permission, though I don't know if this extends to public places like airport lounges. Under Michigan law, consumption of alcohol by minors is illegal.
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Old Dec 5, 06, 7:19 pm
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Originally Posted by sany2 View Post
Indeed. However, contrary to popular belief, many states don't have absolute minimum drinking ages. Depending on the situation, minors may be permitted to drink alcohol. It is against the law in all 50 states for minors to purchase alcohol.
Yes, I noted somewhere that some 19 states do not expressly forbid consumption of alcohol by those under 21.
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Old Dec 5, 06, 7:46 pm
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I am currently at university here in Durham, NC, however I have lived in London my entire life - hence the long-felt emotional affiliation with BA . I never assumed alcohol would be an issue coming to college here, especially coming from such a liberal society where fear of police etc was practically non-existent.

On a recent flight from London to JFK in WT+ I was seated next to this middle aged woman from the carribean, who felt it her duty to ask my age as I asked for a bottle of wine with my meal. The crew member offered a short giggle, while still handing me my choice, however I was a little annoyed at the woman for showing no sign of tact. As a 19 year old I know that once I am back in the States to be a little discreet when enjoying a drink, especially here in Durham where the government has set up a seperate division within the law enforcement sector called ALE (Alcohol Law Enforcement), specifically on the look for college kids having a good time. However part of the reason I love to fly BA is the welcoming attitude I receive from the door of the plane reminding me that I am going back to the ole blighty.

When flying back this xmas I'll be flying from IAD in CW, and so I wouldn't mind enjoying a drink once I get to the lounge, however the last thing I would want would be to be embarrassed by a lounge attendtant calling me out on my age!

A further question would be if there was an actual restriction while flying over international waters. I believe they do exist when flying to dry countries in the ME/Gulf and on most US carriers who ask for proof of age.

Happy flying,

Danny K

Last edited by dsk7; Dec 5, 06 at 8:09 pm
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Old Dec 5, 06, 7:59 pm
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Originally Posted by dsk7 View Post
I am currently at university here in Durham, NC, however I have lived in London my entire life - hence the long-felt emotional affiliation with BA . I never assumed alcohol would be an issue coming to college here, especially coming from such a liberal society where fear of police etc was practically non-existent.

On a recent flight from London to JFK in WT+ I was seated next to this middle aged woman from the carribean, who felt it her duty to ask my age as I asked for a bottle of wine with my meal. The crew member offered a short giggle, while still handing me my choice, however I was a little annoyed at the woman for showing no sign of tact. As a 19 year old I know that once I am back in the States to be a little discreet when enjoying a drink, especially here in Durham where the government has set up a seperate division within the law enforcement sector called ALE (Alcohol Law Enforcement), specifically on the look for college kids having a good time. However part of the reason I love to fly BA is the welcoming attitude I receive from the door of the plane reminding me that I am going back to the ole blighty.

When flying back this xmas I'll be flying from IAD in CW, and so I wouldn't mind enjoying a drink once I get to the lounge, however the last thing I would want would be to be embarrassed by a lounge attendtant calling me out on my age!

A further question would be if there was an actual restriction while flying over international waters. They certainly do exist when flying to dry countries in the ME/Gulf and on most US carriers who ask for proof of age.

Happy flying,

Danny K
Well, I don't think there are any laws covering drinking on planes when over international territory. In fact, I don't believe state laws apply to planes either, so I don't know if any drinking laws except for federal ones (which I don't know if there are any) apply to airplanes.
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Old Dec 5, 06, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
Wasn't it federal coercion that forced most states to raise the drinking age to 21. It was either "raise the drinking age or we'll withhold highway transportation funds". I think it started some 20+ years ago and currently all states are in compliance?
Yes, and the blackmail of the states was perpetrated by a man to this day revered by many as a big supporter of "states' rights". Go figure.

From Reagan: A Legacy of States' Rights in The Nation:
What was consistent--and even more fundamental--about the man was his political commitment to states' rights, the belief that each and every state has a sovereign right to control its laws.
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Old Dec 5, 06, 8:22 pm
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Before 9/11 when the entire terminal in many US airports was open to all people (not just passengers), I used to bring a friend or maybe two to the BA lounge in SEA. We were not 21, and drank, and nobody seemed to care. I have never seen them policed before. My brother only recently turned 21 and before that we always used to have drinks at US lounges.
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Old Dec 5, 06, 9:59 pm
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Originally Posted by number_6 View Post
The BA DFW lounge has removed its self-serve bar (replaced by a shelf of empty bottles, and a sign to ask the lounge attendant for the actual bottle contents).
Well, strictly speaking, the BA DFW lounge never had a self-serve bar to remove in the first place...
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Old Dec 6, 06, 3:19 am
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Originally Posted by thegoderic View Post
Of couse as soon as we got on board, the BA crew plied him with champagne which he accepted with great aplomb!
Brings back memories of drinking G&T on my own down the back on Northwest while parents were in World Business.
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Old Dec 6, 06, 4:05 am
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Originally Posted by sany2 View Post
Well, I don't think there are any laws covering drinking on planes when over international territory. In fact, I don't believe state laws apply to planes either, so I don't know if any drinking laws except for federal ones (which I don't know if there are any) apply to airplanes.
As far as UK registered planes go I'm pretty sure the answer is that inside the aircraft is UK territory (at least when in the air/in international airspace), and UK laws apply. As to which UK laws apply I'd guess that depends on whether the owner is registered in England, Scotland, etc. Certainly, should it take your fancy to murder someone on board (the perils of screaming babies, etc) you'd find yourself up in a court somewhere! There was an issue a few years back when the US looked to ban smoking on board aircraft, and Russia (in respect of SU) basically told the US to bugger off, pointing out that it's a Russian plane and it for Russia to decide what happens on board.

All a bit of a legal minefield really.
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