Airlines turn up heat on drunk passengers

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The Independent Online
IN A move which could prove equally alarming to over-stressed businessmen and members of hard-drinking rock bands, the government announced yesterday that drunken airline passengers could end up spending two years in jail.

The stringent new penalties, announced by the Civil Aviation Authority yesterday, include fines of up to pounds 5,000 as well as a jail sentence. They are designed to reduce drink-fuelled violence on planes after a four-fold rise in the number of disruptive passengers who have been taken off aircraft in the last five years.

Anyone planning to fly will be handed a CAA leaflet by their travel agent, warning them of the new penalties if they attempt to board flights when drunk, or become unruly while on board aircraft. The leaflet, Travelling Safely, will warn passengers they are likely to be refused permission to board an aircraft if they arrive at the airport drunk, and that they could have to pay for a new ticket home once they have sobered up.

A spokesman for the CAA said: "There is no doubt there is a problem with mid-air drunkenness and it presents unacceptable dangers to the crew and passengers. We hope that by pointing out to passengers the way they can avoid trouble - and the consequences if they don't - we can reduce the number of unpleasant incidents."

Although the rock band Oasis added to their notoriety through in-flight misbehaviour, an equally widely publicised incident of bad conduct in the skies occurred only last week. A drunken 33-year-old businessman from Nottingham went on a rampage on a BA jumbo jet flying from London to Florida. He threatened to kill the pilot and headbutt a passenger, as well as indecently assaulting a stewardess.

Many of the alcohol related problems witnessed by airlines are caused by the heady combination of complimentary drinks, nervousness and the fact that pressurised cabins mean that drink can be up to three times more intoxicating than on the ground.

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