The new age of air travel has brought us airlines with fleets of brand new aeroplanes and attractive lead-in prices. Long delays are now almost non existent whereas previously they were commonplace in most Mediterranean airports over the summer when older, overworked aircraft were used during peak weeks by unscrupulous charter companies (in fact you could easily predict which flight would be delayed). Nowadays these spanking new planes even do a trumpet fanfare when they land on time ….but we still have to ask the question:
Are some airlines putting profit before the safety and well being of their passengers? This has nothing to do with the aircraft and everything to do with an attitude that revolves around 2 things – money and alcohol.
An aircraft is an enclosed environment and can be a terrifying experience when the drunk and disorderly minority are terrorizing other passengers with unruly behaviour and offensive language and the worrying thing is that on some British flights it’s now the rule rather than the exception. Not all airlines are the same but it is a worrying trend especially with low cost carriers flying into popular Mediterranean resorts. With airports and airlines serving excess alcohol are they actively encouraging bad behaviour? Even more concerning is that once the booze has run out and trouble flares up somewhere over France the young cabin crew can usually be found cowering in the back behind a grey curtain – but it’s not their fault, they are only following orders.
The concern is that like most things over the last 20 years, it will take a seismic event to change people’s mindset. Uncontrollable passengers, 30000 feet in the air, confined space – you do the Maths. Surely it’s an accident waiting to happen.
The new age business model for the low cost carrier generation revolves around food and beverage with some cabin crew topping up their salary with commission from bar takings so is it any wonder they ‘facilitate’ passengers to drink so much. The crew only have a couple of hours of hell before they can send these drunken idiots on their way (most probably to San Antonio) leaving others to pick up the pieces. Surely it should be the reverse, getting paid extra for a well behaved, calm flight where everyone leaves happy?
Former Thomson Holidays Airport Controller and Ibiza veteran Tricia Templeton says: “This behaviour doesn’t happen on Spanish national flights, now it has sadly become quite normal for the Guardia Civil to meet incoming British flights. I personally have had some horrific experiences onboard aircraft with all the problems revolving around alcohol and the repercussions of drinking too much. The tills were ringing on board but this behaviour has got to stop, it’s getting out of control”
Police are now closely monitoring departing flights from some UK airports and this is a step in the right direction but it still doesn’t solve the relentless in flight sale for 2-3 hours. It’s not just an Ibiza problem as other destinations attract a similar demographic however I’m reliably informed that the white isle is one of the worst destinations for this type of unruly passenger behaviour.
So how can the problem be solved?
Firstly, like an aging alcoholic, now could be a good time for the airlines to stick their hands up and acknowledge the problem. Taking away the onboard sale of alcohol would penalize others but does it really matter for 2 whole hours? Of course not! More importantly it would be an idea if all British airlines to agree to set rules and guidelines to the onboard sale of alcohol with a transparent DUTY OF CARE that is honest and realistic and if passengers step out of line then the authorities should throw the book at them. Finally how about a database banning known extreme offenders from air travel, an Air ASBO if you like? Not all airlines are the same but it has to be across the board so the rules are clear and everybody knows where they stand (as opposed to slumped).
This isn’t being a party pooper just plain common sense because drunken behaviour and offensive language in a confined space is unacceptable and if we carry on regardless who knows how it’s going to end.
3 thoughts on “Nightmare Flights – Profit before Safety?”
A good sensible article Martin. There is also the opportunity of addressing the problem at the depature gate as many of those who consume alcohol during the flight have already drunk excessively in the airport bars. Their obvious consumption is easily recognised prior to departure. Airlines have the right to refuse to carry persons who are under the influence of drink. Unfortunately should they be banned from flying a further problem arises inasmuch that they have to be dealt with at the departure point. No doubt they would become aggressive both physically and verbally. This would cause great inconvenience to the Airline (removal of loaded cases), ground staff and fellow travelers. So in the end it is easier to be rid of the problem by allowing them to board the airplane. This decision is taken without due regard for air safety. For me the only route to be taken is to address the problem before departure and to ban alcohol sales.
Im totally all for the asbo in the air, but I do like a little G&T on my flights so a blanket ban is not for me.
Maybe it’s time for the airlines to have a security guard on all planes and they deal with the unruly, they could be at the departure gates and be monitoring the passengers before take off and gently warn them they will not be flying unless they tone down the drinking and behaviour.
Very good idea but has it really come down to Air Marshals. Apparently so.