With the 2015 Oktoberfest in full froth in Bavaria's capital, you won't be surprised to learn that Europe's largest roofed-in beer garden, with seating for 600 plus chestnut trees and a maypole, is just outside Munich.
This biergarten's speciality is The Supersonic. For €21.50 you get roast pork, knuckle of pork, duck, dumplings and an Alpine-sized pile of side dishes plus "one litre of our famous home-brewed beer served in a siphon". But you might be surprised to learn that location for this lager-fest is at the city's airport – the only one I know that has its own microbrewery to supply thirsty passengers.
The Airbräu brewhouse is "landside", but if you are still thirsty after the security checkpoint then Airbräu Next to Heaven is waiting airside to serve "the refreshing beers we brew ourselves".
If you are among the many travellers who enjoy a pre-flight drink to settle the nerves or celebrate the start or end of a holiday, then MUC – the abbreviation for Munich Franz Josef Strauss airport – is the place for you. But before you order a third litre of "our famous home-brewed beer served in a siphon," note that the Air Navigation Order stipulates: "A person must not enter any aircraft when drunk, or be drunk in any aircraft."
The first reason for the rule is to avoid endangering other passengers in the event of an emergency evacuation, of the sort seen on the British Airways 777 at Las Vegas. The second is because the vast majority of air-rage incidents have their roots in excessive alcohol.
Next time you are sitting on board waiting for your flight to leave, take a good look around and size up your fellow passengers. You can be sure that the cabin crew, aware that "air-rage" incidents are increasing, have done so already.
The Civil Aviation Authority's register of disruptive-passenger incidents so far in 2015 shows a six-fold increase over the past four years, with an average of 18 per month so far this year. So when that good-looking man or woman welcomes you on board with a smile, they are also using their intuition and experience to assess whether you might pose a problem.
Maydays on May Day
Even if the surge in air-rage incidents partly reflects airlines' greater willingness to report them, the register makes disturbing reading.
The year was just three days old when a passenger suspected of smoking in the toilet "denied it despite witnesses and tore up warning letter". On 12 April, a flight from Gatwick to Cancun in Mexico declared a Mayday and diverted due to disruptive passengers. And on a Manchester-Ibiza flight on 5 July, a passenger thought it a great idea to inflate a life jacket while in flight.
Add in multiple cases of passengers swigging their own alcohol, and others stealing drinks from the galley or trolley, and it seems the problem is running out of control.
An astonishing six such incidents (or about 10 days' worth) took place on a single day: 1 May.
Why so many Maydays on May Day? Delving deeper, I found that three of the destinations were Budapest, Krakow and Prague – all prime stag party/pub crawl territory. This year 1 May fell on a Friday at the start of a bank-holiday weekend, a key date for groups of lads to fly abroad. Just so you know, the corresponding date to avoid next year is 29 April 2016.
High and dry?
Some airlines are already taking action. Ryanair has banned passengers from taking duty-frees on to flights to Ibiza because so many were secretly swigging from their own bottles. But the air-safety lobby insists airports must share responsibility to make sure drunks do not board. What worries safety professionals is that one day an air-rage incident will be prove fatal.
It is a risk that needs to be addressed. The figures raise uncomfortable questions for airports and airlines. Is it really a good idea to promote the sale of strong drink shortly before people get on a plane? Should any airlines be giving away unlimited alcohol on board? Fundamentally, should aviation and alcohol mix? Some experts say "No". But if Munich's beer garden closed and airlines were ordered to fly dry, there would be some big financial implications for the industry.Reuse content