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Alcohol Blamed for Rise in Air Rage Incidents

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report has revealed there were 114 cases of “disruptive passengers” on UK flights recorded last year, compared to 39 in 2011.

The CAA figures show a tripling of “air rage” incidents since 2011 including cabin crew and passenger assaults, cockpit intrusions, making bomb threats, smoking in toilets and fights over seats and leg room.

The report has led to calls for airports to impose tougher restrictions on the sale of alcohol in departure lounges after claims drunk passengers were a factor in the majority of cases.

Amongst a catalogue of incidents revealed by the CAA, one passenger attempted to “vacate an aircraft” mid-flight, another damaged seats and deployed an over-wing exit slide, and two passengers suffered burns after throwing hot coffee at each other in a fight over leg room.

The CAA regulates the safety of civil aviation. The Air Navigation Order 2005 (ANO), made under section 61 of the CAA creates a number of offences designed to secure the safety of civil aircraft, regarding the conduct of passengers, air traffic controllers, and cabin crew.

It is a specific criminal offence to be drunk on board an aircraft and to refuse to comply with the captain’s instructions. Cabin-crew also have a duty to control the amount of alcohol passengers are served in-flight.

Airlines have tough rules around alcohol consumption and can refuse boarding to anyone who is drunk to ensure the safety and security of passengers and crew and prevent any potentially disruptive behaviour.

Beer, wine and spirits are liberally available in most airport departure lounges and some passengers overindulge whilst waiting for flights, leading to anti-social behaviour. Late-night flights as well as those accommodating stag party groups to so-called party destinations such as Ibiza, Majorca and Las Vegas are notoriously rowdy.

Airport pubs, bars and restaurants must play their part in monitoring customer’s behaviour and preventing already drunk, aggressive or disruptive passengers from purchasing more alcohol prior to boarding.

A 2013 survey by the International Air Transport Association revealed that of the 53 airlines which took part, 43% experienced more than 100 cases of disruptive passengers over the previous 12 months.

Of the 114 recorded instances of disruptive passengers on UK airlines and foreign airlines operating in UK airspace last year, there were more than 30 assaults on cabin crew or passengers.

There is never any excuse for rude or aggressive conduct by passengers towards cabin crew or fellow passengers and everyone in the aviation sector should be doing more to prevent these kinds of incidents from occurring.

Paul McClorry is a Senior Travel Claims Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

If you are injured whilst boarding or travelling on an aircraft and would like to know if you can claim personal injury compensation, call us 24/7 for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

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