Has your flight been ruined by drunk and disorderly passengers? It’s not a unique experience, according to our new research…
It’s always a bit of a gamble who you’ll end up sitting next to on a flight – but you’re really unlucky if you get stuck next to someone who’s had too many and has decided to act out.
It happened to me on a flight to Budapest when I was sat next to a stag party. They were drunkenly shouting at each other when they boarded and got progressively drunker and louder throughout the flight.
The cabin crew were only too happy to keep serving them as well, despite the clear annoyance of other passengers towards the group.
Fighting in the aisles
Which? Travel recently asked readers if they’d been witness to any alcohol-fuelled misbehavior on flights, and some of the responses were shocking.
One reader told us they’d witnessed people fighting each other in the aisles and then turning on cabin crew when they tried to intervene.
Another where a flight had to be diverted, flying passengers hundreds of miles out of their way, in order to offload one violent, out-of-control individual.
And it’s not just anecdotal evidence: the statistics show disruptive incidents on flights have have shot up recently.
When we asked our readers, one in ten said they’d experienced shouting, drunkenness, obnoxiousness, verbal abuse or other bad behaviour by fellow passengers in the last year.
Our survey found that a whopping 17% of Ryanair passengers had experienced some form of bad behaviour – some other airlines were almost just as bad for drunk and disorderly passengers.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), there were 417 disruptive incidents on flights in 2017; way up from 186 in the previous prior four years combined. And 2018 was on coarse to be even higher.
And the shocking thing is these statistics are only for the most serious incidents, where flight crew felt there was a threat to the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.
Airline double standards
It’s in airlines’ financial interests to sell passengers as much booze as possible, and it seems that much of the time this is precisely what they do (perhaps without considering the consequences).
One Which? Travel reader recalled a flight where his neighbour bought and downed four vodkas and then became aggressive when staff, finally, refused to serve him any more.
As a flight attendant whistleblower told our investigations team: airlines often only pay ‘lip service’ to reducing drinking on flights – while in reality encourage staff to push alcohol sales.
EasyJet responded that its staff work to a ‘serve responsibly’ policy, meaning they monitor consumption and refuse to serve anyone who’s drunk. It didn’t give us a figure for how much training staff are given to deal with disruptive passengers but said its ‘appropriate’ and ‘robust’ and refreshed each year.
What are your experiences of drunk and disorderly passengers on flights? And does more need to be done to tackle the behavior? Is banning alcohol on flights outright a solution? Or do you think it’s down to passengers to limit themselves?