Drunk and disruptive air passengers could be barred from flying under proposals being considered by ministers, the Times reported. The proposed restrictions could include tighter limits on how much alcohol can be served during flights, as well as tighter checks at boarding gates.
A blacklist would also apply to British passengers guilty of disrupting flights and would be enforced by UK-registered airlines, including British Airways and EasyJet, the Times reported. The new regulations build on the lifetime bans already imposed by some airlines, such as those handed this month by Jet2 to 14 passengers for abusive and aggressive behaviour on a flight between Glasgow and Tenerife.
Rise in air rage
According to the latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) 156 "air rage" incidents have been recorded so far this year, up from 114 for the whole of 2014. A dossier prepared by the CAA records a rise in reports of passengers drinking their own booze, smoking in lavatories, assaulting cabin crew, fighting, using abusive language, damaging tray tables and stealing life jackets, according to the Times.
"The number of incidents last year did rise, but we have also seen an increase in the number of flights. Cabin crew are getting better trained to deal with incidents and could be reporting more of them," a spokesman for the CAA told the Times.
"There is no excuse for rude or aggressive conduct by passengers towards cabin crew or fellow passengers on board aircraft," he added. "It is actually a specific criminal offence to be drunk on board an aircraft, and also to refuse to comply with instructions from the captain. We support UK airlines' efforts to deal with disruptive passengers to ensure the safety of all those on board, and welcome criminal prosecutions where appropriate."
A task force from the Department for Transport, CAA, UK Border Force, police, airlines and airports has been set up to address the issue, and new guidelines could reportedly be drawn up within months.
British airlines already have extensive powers to restrain and ban passengers so the new regulations would probably not need new legislation. Some foreign airlines have previously restrained drunken customers by seat-belting or even taping them to their seats.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We welcome the joint working by the industry to tackle the problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption by a small minority of passengers. There are no current plans to change legislation."