London - Passengers face new restrictions on drinking alcohol before they board a plane to stop drunks from spoiling family holidays.
Under a code of conduct published this week there will be more prosecutions for drunkenness, and airport bars will be stopped from serving those who want to drink “excessively”.
The guidelines – drawn up by airports, airlines and the police – also include a ban on people being allowed to drink alcohol they have bought from duty free or taken to the airport themselves
Airlines have grown increasingly concerned about the behaviour of passengers on hen and stag dos who are drunk before they board a flight. There have been a string of reports of rowdy groups causing mayhem mid-air and harassing other passengers.
The rulebook has been issued with the backing of the British Department for Transport.
Lord Ahmad, the new aviation minister, suggests the crackdown could go even further in future. He said he wants to “look at” the wisdom of allowing bars that are airside – which are exempt from normal licensing rules – to sell beer, wine and spirits round the clock.
It follows the release of statistics showing more than 440 people have been arrested over the past two years on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport.
The guidelines would herald a determined blitz on unruly behaviour caused by too much alcohol. Duty free alcohol would be stored away from passengers on flights so they cannot get at it, or be sold in tamper-free bags that staff can check.
Bar staff on the ground will be barred from selling to people who they believe are drunk or intend to consume “excessively”, while police will seek prosecutions for bad behaviour wherever possible
Meanwhile airlines have pledged to seek full compensation for disruptive behaviour, including for diversions, damage to aircraft and delays. There will also be travel bans for those who behave badly when drunk, and passengers will be given advice not to “open and consume alcohol before or during their flight.”
In February six men on a stag party were arrested by German police after a mid-air brawl caused a Ryanair flight from Luton to Bratislava, Slovakia, to divert to Berlin. One of the “massively drunk” group exposed himself while others were fighting, passengers said.
In May a woman passenger hit an easyJet pilot in the face after being ordered to leave an aircraft before it took off from Manchester.