Number of drunk and disruptive passengers arrested on planes falls by 25%

Gatwick and Glasgow airports see biggest decline

Helen Coffey@LenniCoffey
Tuesday 03 September 2019 14:41
Number of drunk and disruptive passengers arrested on planes falls by 25%

The number of drunk and disruptive passengers arrested on planes at UK airports fell by 25 per cent last year, data has revealed.

Some 87 travellers were arrested on planes from April 2018 to April 2019, compared to 117 during the same period the previous year.

At Gatwick and Glasgow airports, the number of arrests almost halved year-on-year.

However, 245 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk at an airport between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2019, leading to renewed calls for further restrictions on alcohol sales. UK's busiest airport, Heathrow, recorded the highest number of arrests in that time (103).

Among the reasons for arrests were passengers sexually abusing staff, urinating in public and being too drunk to fasten their seatbelt.

The numbers came from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent by the Press Association to 16 UK police forces responsible for the country’s 20 busiest airports. The data only concerns arrests, and does not reflect the total number of incidents involving drunk or disruptive travellers.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said: “There is no credible reason we’ve heard – other than commercial gain – why airport bars and duty free are not licensed in the same way as any pub or restaurant on the high street.

“Likewise, why are duty-free shops still able to sell miniature bottles of alcohol, including at the airport gate? We know miniatures are sold for one reason only – to encourage immediate consumption, including on the plane.”

However, the government-backed One Too Many campaign, which launched in 2018 with the aim of educating travellers about the repercussions of drinking too much at the airport or on a flight, said the decline in arrests on planes was a positive development.

Francois Bourienne, chair of campaign partner the UK Travel Retail Forum, said: “It is promising to see a decline in the number of arrests caused by disruptive passenger behaviour since the One Too Many campaign made its debut.

“We aren’t surprised by these results as many of our campaign partner airports have reported an individual decrease in the number of disruptive passenger incidents since the campaign began, even as passenger numbers have continued to rise across the UK.

“We’re also very encouraged that the campaign has doubled in size since it began, with 20 airports now using the campaign to alert passengers to the risks and consequences of disruptive behaviour.”

The findings follow a government consultation on whether licensing laws, which restrict alcohol sales before 10am, should be applied to airports.

The Home Office’s “call for evidence” closed in February; no recommendations have yet been made.

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Europe’s biggest airline, Ryanair, supported the proposed changes. A spokesperson said at the time: “We continue to call for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at airports, such as a two drink limit per passenger and no alcohol sales before 10am.

“It’s incumbent on the airports to introduce these preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights.”

Just yesterday, The Independent reported on a female passenger who was arrested by police upon arrival at Southend airport after claims she drunkenly assaulted cabin crew on an easyJet flight and allegedly attempted to open the plane door.

Another passenger said the woman had fought with her husband, who was also removed from the aircraft by police, before storming down the aisle “screaming and swearing”, reported The Sun.

The passenger alleged that the woman “punched one of the crew in the face”, kicked another into the emergency exit, and that travellers feared she would “bash the plane door down”.

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