It is time to BAN alcohol on aeroplanes, says MARTIN TOWNSEND Martin Townsend
Editor of the Sunday Express It is time to BAN alcohol on aeroplanes, says MARTIN TOWNSEND IT TOOK the King’s Cross fire 30 years ago – and the death of 31 people – to finally force a ban on smoking on the London Underground. PUBLISHED: 00:01, Sun, Oct 29, 2017 | UPDATED: 08:02, Sun, Oct 29, 2017 GETTY 387 people were arrested at British airports and on flights between February 2016 and 2017
As soon as it began many wondered why it hadn’t been imposed years earlier, particularly on the trains themselves.
Even though the smokers were confined to certain carriages, overcrowding would often leave non-smokers with no choice but to brave the fumes.
In addition, the opening of the windows between carriages, for ventilation during summer, meant the whole train soon became enshrouded with the fug from dozens of “gaspers”.
In wet weather the grooved wooden flooring in these carriages was clogged with the mush of fag-ends. Yeuch. Related articles GETTY Alcohol was banned on the London Underground in 2008. Will a ban on aeroplanes follow? Will this knees-up simply be boorish and intolerable or is this a dance with the Devil that will bring the plane down? Martin Townsend
The ban on alcohol on the Underground, which began in 2008, made Tube travel even more pleasant and, wonder of wonders, it didn’t actually take a disaster for it to happen.
Just a refreshing bit of common sense from the then-mayor Boris Johnson.
So which route will the Government choose in dealing with the fast-growing menace of drunkenness on airlines?
Will Home Secretary Amber Rudd act now and ban all alcohol on planes and in airports, or wait for a tragedy to force her hand? GETTY It is possible to purchase alcohol in air-side airport bars from 4am onwards
The great majority of passengers act responsibly on flights. Sadly, a sizeable minority have no such restraint.
These are the travellers who start their holidays with an early-hours drinking session in the airport where, air-side, it is possible to purchase and consume alcohol from 4am.
They then load up with booze from the duty-free shop to guzzle on the flight.
A voluntary Code Of Conduct on Disruptive Passengers, introduced by the aviation industry in July 2016, should have prevented this: It asks retailers to warn passengers not to consume purchases on the plane.
But a House Of Lords inquiry found “not a shred of evidence” that the code was working.
It is also illegal to enter an aircraft when drunk or to be drunk on an aircraft, but have you ever seen anyone challenged as they wobble on board, shouting the odds?
Still less, heard of any inebriated passengers receiving the maximum penalty for that offence, which is two years’ jail?
It certainly didn’t happen in the case of drunken Bridget Hanley, a 34-year-old British woman who lunged at another holidaymaker on a flight from Manchester to Mexico, forcing the plane to divert to Canada. RADIOCANADA Bridget Hanley was only jailed for 20 days after attacking another passenger mid-flight
In Quebec City last week Ms Hanley was jailed, under Canadian law, for a mere 20 days for “disturbing the peace, mischief and jeopardising an aircraft’s safety.”
A total of 387 people were arrested at British airports and on flights between February 2016 and February 2017 – a rise of 50 per cent in a year.
Set against the millions who fly worldwide, it seems like a piffling number but how many more simply behave appallingly and are not arrested?
One in five cabin crew members who responded to a survey said they have suffered physical abuse.
One crew manager with Virgin, Ally Murphy, quit her job a year ago after repeated sexual assaults by passengers.
“They would touch your breasts… your bum or your legs,” she said.
“I’ve had hands going up my skirt before.”
Years of smutty jokes about air stewardesses and the “mile-high club” have left female air crew vulnerable to misogynistic passengers who view it as all part of the “laughs” and “banter” on a flight. GETTY The number of people arrested for drunkenness at airports or on flights has increased 50% in a year
But these are serious, traumatising crimes.
If we are going to haul everyone from Hollywood producers to senior politicians through the mire for inappropriate behaviour towards women, why do we seem to accept this as everyday stuff on aircraft?
The fact that Ms Murphy also reported seeing a drunken passenger try to open an aircraft door underlines that these passengers are capable of endangering an entire flight as well as attacking other fliers.
Governments, globally, spend billions protecting air passengers from acts of terrorism: they compel us to remove shoes and belts and make anyone caught carrying more than 100ml of toothpaste feel like a criminal.
Meanwhile, the alternative tools of in-flight terror are whisked on board with impunity: the carrier bags of vodka, whisky and wine.
The law-abiding passengers who go through indignities in the name of security then watch as these items are slyly unveiled and help fuel a rowdy party to which none of them were or wanted to be invited.
Aggressive pub drunks are bad enough but innocent bystanders can always head for the exit.
There is no such option on a plane where onlookers are left to quietly fret.
Will this knees-up simply be boorish and intolerable or is this a dance with the Devil that will bring the plane down?
With each air-rage incident that possibility comes ever closer. Related articles