I was enjoying a pleasant Southwest “redeye” earlier this week and it reminded me of an important tip for the savvy Southwest flyer.
While you will never see this explicitly written as a benefit, there is an unwritten rule among *most* Southwest flight attendants that a delay of greater than one hour or so means the first alcoholic drink ordered will be on the house. The savvy Southwest traveler orders and accepts the free drink without alerting the nearby cabin to the policy. Savvy travelers do not ask the flight attendant if they are entitled to a free drink nor expect it every time since there are a few caveats.
- If you have a drink coupon or method of payment visible when you order the flight attendant will probably accept it.
- Not all flight attendants honor the unwritten rule so respect their decision.
- A mechanical delay is more likely to result in a free drink than a weather delay though both generally qualify.
- The unofficial offer is generally only valid on the first pass through the cabin.
- If you experience a FLIPPIN’ FIVE HOUR MECHANICAL DELAY LIKE MW you can probably expect an “all you can drink” flight. The flight attendants won’t even take out the payment machines.
The bottom line
Because this is an unofficial policy, YMMV (Your Martinis May Vary). Savvy Southwest travelers know this is a generous unwritten benefit and proceed with respect toward the flight attendant’s decision to honor the unwritten rule.