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Booze-fuelled air rage: should alcohol be banned on planes?

Simon Calder’s Travel

Two recent inflight brawls – both on Ryanair flights from Edinburgh to Tenerife – have drawn renewed attention to the problems of drink-fuelled air rage. On the first occasion, Spanish police arrested the perpetrators on arrival in the Canary Islands. On the second, the plane from Scotland’s capital was diverted to Porto in Portugal for the troublesome passengers to be offloaded.

Passengers on these and many other flights have spoken out about their scary ordeal as violence erupted in a confined environment.

“Air rage” threatens the safety of passengers and crew. The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) says: “Any kind of unruly or disruptive behaviour whether related to intoxication, aggression or other factors introduces an unnecessary risk to the normal operation of a flight.”

Many of these incidents are fuelled by excess alcohol. Drunkenness and disruption draw the crew away from their normal safety duties. They also cause a potential hazard in the event of an emergency evacuation – when every passenger needs their wits about them.

Amy Leversidge, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), told The Independent: “These sorts of things are really distracting to the cabin crew and the pilots. There’s lots more that could be done to make sure that there’s a good culture and good behaviours on the flight.”

How bad is the problem, and what are the possible solutions? These are the key questions and answers.

Is there such a thing as a typical case of air rage?

EASA asserts: “Unruly passengers threaten the safety of 1,000 flights a year.” That is an average of almost three a day. Every month, on average, a flight has to make an emergency landing due to unruly behaviour.

Every incident is different, but many involve alcohol as a contributory factor. The ban on smoking and vaping, as well as the anxiety some people feel about flying, can contribute to a traveller’s stress. Alcohol is often considered an alternative.

A disruptive passenger typically boards an aircraft after having had several drinks, and proceeds to consume more on board – either provided by the cabin crew or surreptitiously swigged from duty-free bottles. Their behaviour may be exacerbated by drugs. The individual can then become loud and aggressive, possibly threatening cabin crew and other passengers.

What are the…

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