Monday, February 27, 2017
St. Louis airport could soon get booze-to-go policy
In this photo from Feb. 24, 2017, traveler Dominic Maley sips on a beer while waiting to board a flight at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — It could soon be legal for travelers to take booze from the bar to their gate at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
The Missouri House just passed a bill that changes liquor laws in airports, allowing people to order alcoholic beverages "to go" from a bar and carry them to their gates in a branded plastic cup. Travelers would not be able to take drinks onto planes or through security.
The law applies to all international airports in the state, but Kansas City International Airport is unlikely to see a change if the bill becomes law. Many of the bars in KCI are located outside security checkpoints, and vendors near some gates are already able to sell wine and beer for patrons to drink near the gate as they wait for their flight.
"We will have to give it more study, but on the surface, it does not appear that anything changes," said Joe McBride, senior marketing and communications manager for the Kansas City Aviation Department.
The bill garnered bipartisan support in the House, with only 16 people in the 162-member chamber voting against it. Supporters say the law would encourage more business at airports and enhance customer satisfaction. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Some passengers worry the law could encourage unruly drunkenness.
Chris Clarambeau, a businessman flying home to Flint, Mich., out of Lambert on Friday, said he worried that the law could increase the number of drunken passengers and cause inconveniences.
"You see examples of people who get violent or are just generally unruly and argumentative," Clarambeau said. "And the flight starts and then the plane has to get stuck and security has to come and take the person off the plane and a hundred people on the plane have been inconvenienced because of it."
A handful of cities around the country have already enacted similar policies, including Nashville and Memphis, Houston, Portland, Ore., and Tampa.
Shannon Sumrall, a spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport, said the airport has only seen positive outcomes since they got a liquor license in 2014 that covers the entire airport instead of individual vendors.
"It's been very well-received by our concessionaires and by our passengers," she said. "There was a fear for airport police that it was going to increase drunkenness, and we have no evidence of that either."
Sumrall said the policy has opened up new business opportunities. Local breweries Yazoo and Tennessee Brew Works have opened beer kiosks to provide drinks for passengers on the go.
Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, the director of Lambert International Airport, said Lambert was excited about the proposal. She said it would help enhance customer experience and keep the costs of flights down as people spend more money at the concessionaires.
"This is not an issue of where you're going to see unruliness as a result," she said.