WASHINGTON (AP) _ Carry-on coffee has been cleared for take-off.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that passengers can keep the cups of coffee they've carried onto airliners despite rules saying that carry-on items must be put away.

The decision came after a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines complained that the FAA inspector overseeing the West Coast carrier was forcing it to collect carry-on coffee cups out of concerns that passengers could be splashed with hot liquid if a plane made a sudden stop.

Inspectors overseeing Alaska's competitors, especially those flying out of a coffee hot spot such as Seattle, did not have the same rule _ prompting complaints of unfairness. That triggered an agency review of the consistency and common sense of some rulings.

In a memorandum being sent to the agency's airline inspectors, Nick Lacey, head of flight standards for the FAA, said passengers could keep their coffee.

The agency will also write to airlines saying they may want to evaluate their preflight routine so flight attendants are given an opportunity to ask passengers if they want to discard any carry-on items before take-off, said FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette.

Still under review is the agency's policy regarding glassware, Duquette said. Some U.S. carriers have complained that they are at a disadvantage with foreign counterparts because the FAA requires them to collect all glassware before a plane begins taxiing.

Airlines like to pamper passengers in first and business class with china, linen and crystal service, but the policy forces them to collect glasses and pour drinks into plastic cups once a plane leaves the gate. Even those must be collected before take-off.

The FAA rulebook says passengers must put all items in the overhead compartments or under the seat in front of them before take-off and landing. There are exceptions for such items as books or newspapers.

FAA rules also require airlines to collect ``service items,'' which could range from a preflight drink to a food tray left over from the meal service.

The rules have come into question with the reduction in airline food service and the boom in airport concession stands. Increasingly, hungry travelers are bringing entire meals aboard their flights.