Tippling travelers at Charleston International who buy a preflight drink aren’t allowed to take their beverages outside the airport’s bars.
That could be changing.
The Charleston County Aviation Authority, which oversees South Carolina’s busiest airport, is considering a proposal that would let passengers take beer and wine in plastic cups to the waiting areas beyond the security checkpoint. Glass containers won’t be allowed because of the safety risks.
Currently, alcoholic beverages aren’t allowed beyond the airport restaurants and bars that serve them. Liquor drinks would still be restricted to those establishments, and no alcohol would be allowed in unrestricted public areas of the terminal building, such as the luggage carousels.
Several other airports allow alcohol consumption beyond their watering holes, authority CEO Paul Campbell said.
“We want to try it on a test basis,” he said.
Some board members expressed reservations about the change.
“I don’t necessarily believe we need to turn the airport into a cocktail party,” Henry Fishburne said.
Board member Margaret Seidler said she likes the idea, but she wants a committee to explore it more.
Campbell said airport police support the proposal, and he believes it will generate more income. “We think it will improve retail sales and increase revenue at the airport,” he said.
Sean Tracey, director of planning and development, said the new policy would serve passengers as much as the airport.
“It’s more than a revenue initiative,” he said. “It’s a customer-service initiative.”
Airport spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said Charleston International is not a layover hub airport with several hours between flights that would allow passengers to overimbibe.
“People don’t come here to drink,” she said. “They come here to catch a flight.”
Passengers didn’t seem to mind the proposal Thursday.
“If you are old enough to buy it, you should be able to drink it anywhere in the airport,” said Ray Moffitt, 58, of Pensacola, Fla., who was in the Bier Cellar bar while waiting on a Delta flight.
Josh Meagher, 28, of Lexington, Ky., agreed.
“It would be convenient to get it and sit by your gate and not be tied to the bar to drink it,” Meagher said.
The airport authority took no action on a proposed 90-day trial period Thursday.
It plans to revisit the issue March 7.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.