Drunk Passengers Face Air Ban

September 19, 2015 at 10:29

Great  to see that our Onboard Together campaign to stamp out drunk and disruptive behaviour on flights is gathering momentum!  Ministers are now considering tighter sanctions on drunk passengers including putting them on an airline blacklist.

Read the full story from The Times below:

Passengers who drink too much in airports face being blocked from boarding flights under plans to combat a surge in “air rage” incidents, The Times has learnt.

Tighter limits could also be placed on how many drinks are given out in the air, and intoxicated British passengers may be put on a blacklist that bars them from flying with other domestic carriers.

Ministers are considering the sanctions after a rise in cases of mid-flight disruption, some of which have led to emergency landings. Foreign airlines have even resorted to restraining passengers with seatbelts and adhesive tape.

Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show that 156 air rage incidents have been logged by British airlines so far this year — the most since the late Nineties when the novelty of budget air travel began to wear off.

Last year, 114 cases were recorded compared with 85 a year earlier. Only 47 disruptive passenger incidents were logged in 2012 and 39 in 2011.

The clampdown may include tougher checks at the boarding gate to screen out potentially rowdy passengers, or a restriction on the number of drinks bought at airport bars and restaurants.

Staff serving drinks might be expected to report concerns about customers to airlines so that inebriated passengers could not simply behave themselves at the boarding gate to get on the plane. A dossier published by the regulator detailed incidents relating to passengers drinking their own beer and spirits, smoking in the lavatories, assaulting cabin crew, fighting, using abusive language, damaging tray tables and stealing lifejackets and other safety equipment.

In one case, a passenger en route to Corfu on August 21 was “abusive to cabin crew and set fire to [a] companion’s hair”. On May 1, a passenger “exposed himself to cabin crew and fellow passengers”.

Other incidents included a stag party stealing alcohol from the food and drink cart, a passenger entering the flight deck and another trying to damage the fuselage.

The CAA said that the rise this year might be down to better recording of incidents or a zero tolerance attitude towards air rage by airlines. Many within the aviation industry are alarmed, however. They want tougher action to tackle the problem, which is believed to be linked to the increasing availability of cheap flights and a general rise in passenger traffic.

A task force from the Department for Transport, CAA, UK Border Force, police, airlines and airports has been set up to address the issue. It first met in July. Robert Goodwill, the aviation minister, said that the government “takes this issue very seriously and is supportive of efforts that airlines, airports and retail outlets are making to tackle the problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption by a small minority of passengers”. A range of steps may be taken, including withholding further alcohol from passengers, he said in a parliamentary answer.

Other options being considered are believed to include introducing a system to identify passengers suspected of drinking too much in the terminal — or before reaching the airport — and flagging them up to airline staff at the boarding gate. One source said there needed to be “better communication between outlets that are serving alcohol, the police and the airlines”.

Passengers already subjected to flying bans or restrictions for causing problems on one airline may be barred from other carriers. This move has been led by Jet2, the budget airline, which banned 14 passengers for life this month after they were aggressive and abusive on a flight from Glasgow to Tenerife.

The crackdown is unlikely to require new legislation as airlines and airports already have extensive powers to deal with drunk and unruly passengers. The task force could lead to new government guidelines within months. The British Air Transport Association said: “By bringing airlines, airports and other key players together, we aim to share industry best practice and explore new ways to address this issue.”

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “The vast majority of passengers travelling through UK airports enjoy an excellent customer experience as increasing satisfaction scores show — and disruptive behaviour only takes place on a very small minority of flights. However, disruptive behaviour is unacceptable and airports, airlines, retailers and the police are all working together to manage problems when they arise.”