Aviation community demands action on alcohol to combat increase in 'air rage'

 

Travel Correspondent

“In a small metal tube 12,000 metres above the Earth no-one can help you,” said Martina Benkova, a Slovakian flight attendant who is now training crew in dealing with disruptive travellers. She was opening Dispax World, a conference held at Heathrow aimed at reducing the risks from unruly passengers – and crew.

The extent of in-flight disruption is increasing, according to the conference organiser, Philip Baum: “It is affecting 300-400 flights a week.” And the evidence at the conference is that alcohol is at the root of many potentially dangerous “air rage” incidents.

Problems begin on the ground, said Ms Benkova: “Ground staff don’t care if people are drinking at the airport – they just want to get rid of the problem.”

Carol Michel, a US lawyer representing airlines, said: “In Las Vegas, I see passengers wheel-chaired up to the door of the aircraft, because they’re too drunk to walk. I don’t think the bars and restaurants have any idea they are endangering the safety of that flight.”

But an aviation medicine specialist countered the widely held belief that drink has a heightened effect when flying. “It’s an urban myth that flying exacerbates the effect of alcohol. At cabin altitude there is no effect,” said Professor Michael Bagshaw from King’s College. However, he said some passengers who are fearful of flying are likely to turn to drink or drugs. He urged cabin crew to “avoid patronising or heavy-handed confrontation, and allow petty infractions to pass unchallenged.”

The desire for a cheap flight could be one reason for the rise in air rage, according to Professor Tom Baum of Strathclyde University: “The enthusiasm to get the cheapest possible flight to Australia means that people aren’t taking a stopover as they used to. If you’re at the end of your 24-hour tether, good behaviour can go out the window.” He said that changing social attitudes also had an effect:  “It’s not just alcohol – people’s expectations of entitlement puts a lot of pressure on front-line staff.”

Professor Baum said the best way to prevent disruptive incidents was to talk to passengers: “Give space and time to engage with them. Rage is much less likely with your ‘friend’ than with an anonymous uniform.”

Rebekah Tanti-Dougall, a lawyer from Malta, condemned the lack of resolve among airlines to prosecute “air rage” offenders – choosing instead just to give them a written warning. “Any passenger who poses any threat should not be treated lightly.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there