Air Rage Incidents in the UK Have Quadrupled, and You Can (Mostly) Blame It on Booze

Sep 21, 2016

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Air rage is all the rage in the UK. According to a BBC report, recent data compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority — the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the FAA — shows that incidents of air rage have quadrupled in the past three years, up from 85 in 2013 to 386 in 2015. And this year has been no different, with a number of highly publicized incidents, including a Ryanair flight that had to be diverted to Berlin in February due to an unruly bachelor party. Unsurprisingly, especially to aviation professionals and frequent flyers, alcohol is playing a major part in the increase in in-flight violence.

“People a lot of the time don’t actually realize they’re on board an aircraft. I think a lot of the time people think that they’re in a club or in a bar,” says “Dan Air,” the nom de plume of the veteran cabin crew member behind the Confessions of a Trolley Dolly blog. “They behave like animals. You can’t believe your eyes some of the things that you’re seeing.”

Among the things that Dan, personally, has seen are “grown lads punching each other, head-butting, drugs being taken on the tray tables in front of other passengers [and] in front of us until we’ve gone down and spoken to them.”

This hardly comes as news to aviation insiders in the United Kingdom, who have been actively brainstorming ways to curb the issue, which begins on the ground. In July, aviation minister Lord Ahmad announced that he and his colleagues would be examining the problem of drunk passengers, beginning with airport alcohol consumption. “I don’t think we want to kill merriment altogether, but I think it’s important that passengers who board planes are also responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers, and that certainly should be the factor which we bear in mind,” Ahmad explained, adding that “In terms of specific regulations of timings of outlets [which sell alcohol] and how they operate, clearly I want to have a look at that.”

But isn’t about to wait: Last month, the budget airline announced that it was banning the sale of alcohol before 8am on all of its flights, with managing director Phil Ward encouraging his fellow airlines to follow suit with this “bold step.” Yet Ward also realizes that the airports and airlines need to work together, as passengers “pre-loading” before a flight is a key issue.

“You can see it every day where people are drinking pints at six in the morning,” Ward — whose airline has already issued 22 lifetime bans to unruly passengers this year alone — told the BBC. “I’m not trying to spoil people’s holidays at all, but it’s not normal to drink a pint at six in the morning and that then manifests itself on board the plane where the alcohol takes a greater effect.”

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Ward added. “But it’s something we’ve all agreed is a good practical solution, we just need to work out how to do it between us consistently, so that it’s managed correctly.”


Featured image courtesy of iStock.

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