herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Sobering to see so many passengers get blotto

A BBC Panorama investigation found 387 such people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk between February 2016 and February 2017, up from 255 the previous year
A BBC Panorama investigation found 387 such people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk between February 2016 and February 2017, up from 255 the previous year

'Drinking on a plane is great because you don't have to drive and they can't throw you out."

It's one of those daft signs you get for your office or loo. It would be funny if it wasn't so serious. Here are the facts.

The number of people arrested for being too drunk at UK airports and on flights has soared by 50pc in the past year.

A BBC Panorama investigation found 387 such people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk between February 2016 and February 2017, up from 255 the previous year.

The two outward flights I took to see Celtic play Rangers were early morning affairs from Dublin airport.

It appeared half the plane couldn't have walked in a straight line or operated heavy machinery.

Hammered

The flight back from one match was particularly bad. Police were there at departures in Glasgow, but were clearly glad to usher the fans on board and let gardai deal with anyone who got out of hand.

There was some slagging of what were then called air hostesses, but no one was arrested, despite being blotto.

Then there was the flight to Ibiza for a wedding a few years back. Ibiza is party central, but this was in the wedding and family-orientated part of the island.

It was early morning and a hen party was getting stuck in at the airport. On board, they were served when they were clearly hammered.

I couldn't understand why the booze they'd bought in duty free was taken off them yet they were still served alcohol throughout the flight.

They were so drunk getting off that one took the wrong bag. Another left their bag on the plane. The lot of them were like a bunch of newborn calves at the baggage carousel, they were so unsteady on their feet.

Another passenger gave one of the cabin crew an earful for serving them drink on the flight.

Are cabin crew on commission? Was the captain or chief cabin crew person just more lenient? Does it go with the territory on that flight, and the crew are just more relaxed about it? Because honestly, they were like bar staff.

The examples I've cited are the exception. The vast majority of people are well behaved on board flights, even with drink on them.

Limiting people to two drinks, as Ryan- air suggested this week, seems utterly unworkable.

It might just encourage binge- drinking at nearby bars and in the airport before passengers board the plane.

What about executive lounges? Would there be limits there? Would it create a two-tier policy?

And surely no two drinks are equal. Two beers in a big man after a meal surely are not the equivalent of two cocktails in a slim-built girl early in the day.

Not many people on a plane starting their holidays say: "I won't have a drink."

It seems unfair to penalise the rest of us because some go overboard.

It may be midday as you take off, but somewhere in the world its 9 o'clock in the evening.

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