BA gives a final warning to drunken passengers

AIRCRAFT PASSENGERS who disrupt British Airways flights are to be targeted in a "yellow card" warning scheme, it was announced yesterday.

BA is to launch a trial project in which final warnings will be issued to anti-social passengers in an attempt to reduce unruly behaviour, otherwise known as "air rage", which has increased by 400 per cent over the last three years.

The notices, which warn disorderly passengers that further bad behaviour could lead to their arrest and being liable to any costs incurred by the airline, will begin worldwide from 1 September.

Last month, a BA jet made an unscheduled landing in Tenerife after a drunken passenger attempted to force his way into the pilot's cabin during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to London.

While excess drinking can lead to trouble, it is smokers who cause cabin crew the most problems. Smoking was involved in around 70 per cent of the 260 serious incidents recorded by BA last year.

This was highlighted three weeks ago when a pilot for BA's bargain operator, Go, was questioned by Italian police for allegedly refusing to allow his 148 passengers to leave the aircraft in Milan.

Captain Brian Bliss is thought to have been angered after none of the passengers on the flight owned up to breaking a no-smoking ban by lighting up in the lavatories, putting safety at risk.

David Hyde, BA's director of safety, security and environment, hoped the warning scheme would carry weight in courts around the world should prosecutions be made. He pledged his support for air crews to take a firm line, saying: "Cabin crew are usually the first in the firing line when it comes to dealing with air rage but they are certainly not alone when it comes to tackling it."

He added that BA supported Captain Bliss's actions, claiming that smoking in lavatories jeopardised a flight's safety.