Buh-Bye: Airlines Look To Ban Drunks For Life

Open Jaw

Fed-up airlines are moving to banish disruptive drunks for life. Some carriers are developing a code of conduct that could see drunken pax prosecuted, barred from return journeys without refund or simply banned from flying with the airline - ever.

The move started in the U.K., where carriers have experienced some of the worst recent incidents of air rage, ranging from brawling and using foul or racist language to public urination and masturbation and attempts to break into the cockpit.

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) released figures earlier this year revealing that unruly behaviour has tripled over the past 3 years, but it's a problem throughout the world.

The British Air Transport Association and Airport Operators Association is drawing up common behaviour regulations and airlines have written to Britain's Transport Secretary asking for government support, The Times reports.

Airlines believe they are within their legal rights to ban drunk pax for life. They say some incidents of in-flight outrageousness have reached the stage where they could endanger lives. It's tough to argue, as any frequent reader of Open Jaw Deviations can attest.

Phil Ward, Managing Director of U.K.-based low-cost carrier Jet2, told the Times his company would not allow the “disruptive few" to spoil flights for families and vacationers. He said he had seen pax “pre-loading" with alcohol before flights by drinking cans of lager at 5.30 a.m. at MAN.

“The plane is not a nightclub," Ward told the paper. “It's 6 miles up and going at 500 mph so you can't step outside to get some fresh air." Cabin crew have to deal with “abusive, racist and often noisy and aggressive" pax, causing misery and disruption for everyone else.

New Jet2 rules let cabin crew give pax verbal and written warnings. Planes can make emergency landings to offload obnoxious pax and charge them up to £3500 in “diversion costs." That sum, however is only a fraction of what a diversion costs an airline, which, depending on the incident, can cost well into the 6 figure range.

Last year, IATA's 70th Annual General Meeting unanimously adopted a resolution calling on governments and industry to work together “to effectively deter and manage the significant problem of unruly air passenger behaviour."

“Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour," said Tony Tyler, IATA Director General.

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