UK Considers Restricting Alcohol at Airports
Grabbing a pint at a Heathrow pub before spending six hours in a middle seat on a flight to the U.S. is a sacred rite for some air travelers, but British lawmakers may soon make that difficult by limiting the sale of alcohol in British airports.
Newly-appointed British Aviation Minister Tariq Ahmad is considering cracking down on the sale of alcohol in the wake of several high profile incidents involving drunk passengers disrupting flights, including a woman who tried to open a door mid-flight and an airplane brawl by a drunken bachelor party that forced a plane to land.
Ahmad is not trying to prevent people from drinking away their pre-flight jitters, but instead is hoping to address excessive alcohol consumption that leads to flight disruptions. The first step will be an investigation into where alcohol consumption gets most out of hand at the airports.
“It’s important that passengers who board planes are also responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers, and that certainly should be the factor which we bear in mind,” he said, according to The Guardian. “If you are a young family travelling on a plane you want to go from point A to B—you don’t want to be disrupted.”
The suggestion comes after the U.K. aviation industry released their first-ever guidelines for dealing with unruly fliers: the Code of Practice on Disruptive Passengers.
The target of potential restrictions would be airport bars and restaurants—many of which are open and serving alcohol 24-hours day—that serve obviously intoxicated travelers, as well as duty free shops where it is easy to purchase large quantities of alcohol that can then be consumed in the airport or on the flight.
Ahmad also suggests training flight crew to screen drunk passengers, although that may not be all that easy, as one Guardian columnist noted: “I’m British. If there’s one thing I am good at, it’s concealing that I am drunk when the occasion demands it.”
Ahmad is not the first person to try to quell alcohol consumption in airports. According to the Evening Standard, in 2015 both Manchester and Glasgow airports started testing selling Duty Free alcohol in sealed bags so passengers could not imbibe before getting on the plane.