From this month, JetBlue passengers will be able to enjoy the crisp taste of a craft beer without any hangover worries as the airline adds a non-alcoholic beer from Athletic Brewing Company to its drinks cart.
For its first non-alcoholic beer, JetBlue has chosen Athletic’s Upside Dawn Golden Ale, a light-bodied brew with subtle floral and earthy notes brewed with Vienna Malt and English and American hops. It has less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), is gluten-free, and comes in at just 45 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates.
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The beverage is now available on all domestic JetBlue flights, priced at $9 per can, the same as alcoholic beers.
JetBlue is the first U.S. carrier to add a non-alcoholic beer to its inflight drinks service, reflecting the growing popularity of guilt-free suds.
“Previously, most people had this vision of non-alcoholic beer which was for very specific customer cohorts and was very low-velocity, so in a plane setting where there’s really limited space, they wouldn’t stock it,” Athletic Brewing Company CEO Bill Shufelt told CT Insider.
But Athletic is “taking non-alcoholic beer to new occasions, new populations,” he said. So stocking it on an airline drinks cart “really makes sense.”
Sales of non-alcohol beers have risen by 34% in the last year alone, with Athletic reaping a 94% increase in sales this year. As a result, the Brewer’s Association now lists Athletic as the country’s 13th largest craft brewer. In 2021, the company’s $37 million revenue made it the U.S.’s fastest-growing food and beverage company, according to the Financial Times.
Athletic has held its own as big drink players have introduced non-alcoholic brewskis. However, Shufelt said he doesn’t see the non-alcoholic market as a “zero-sum game” and believes there’s potential for further growth. The company pointed to a recent survey that found that one-third of Americans want to reduce their alcohol consumption this year.
The Connecticut-based brewery anticipates that its beverages will sell as well at 35,000 feet as they do on the ground.
“We’re excited to take flight with JetBlue and allow flyers to relax at 35,000 feet with a great-tasting alternative to full-strength brews. This is a huge milestone for Athletic and a key partnership for us in the travel industry,” Shufelt said in a statement.
Mariya Stoyanova, director of product development at JetBlue, said the carrier’s addition of non-alcoholic beer is part of “our continued effort to provide customers with an onboard experience customized to their needs and preferences.”
The partnership comes as airlines face a surge of unruly, often intoxicated passengers. While the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) said disruptive passenger incidents dropped 80% last year from its mid-pandemic peak of 5,973 reports in 2021, passengers are still kicking off on planes, often emboldened by alcohol, reintroduced to most airline drinks carts in 2022.
In a high-profile incident last month, an intoxicated passenger on an American Airlines flight from New York’s JFK Airport to Delhi (DEL) urinated on a fellow traveler following an altercation.
Meanwhile, in January, two British travelers were charged with federal crimes in the U.S. after they drunkenly abused and assaulted flight attendants and fellow passengers on a TUI Airways flight from Cancún, Mexico (CUN) to Manchester, England (MAN), forcing the flight to be diverted to Bangor, Maine (BGR).