Airports act to prevent disruptive behaviour

Since the creation of an industry Code of Practice two years ago, the aviation sector has been working together to reduce the number of disruptive passenger incidents during travel, particularly the proportion of incidents caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Today [Friday 1 February], airports have reaffirmed their commitment to the Code and outlined the actions they have taken, collectively and individually, to bring the number of alcohol-related incidents down.

Over the course of the last two years, airports have built on previous prevention measures in a number of ways:

  • Airports joined with industry partners in the One Too Many campaign, educating passengers on the risks of disruptive behaviour. This campaign has reached over 1.9 million people over its summer campaign and its winter campaign is ongoing.
  • Airports developed internal reporting systems for disruptive behaviour, including hotlines for employees to report incidents and staff WhatsApp Groups.
  • Airports have banned the sale of promotional measures of alcohol, such as a ‘Double-Pint’.
  • Airports have signed up to Best Bar None or similar accreditation schemes.

The AOA has worked with its members to identify and assess pinch-point areas throughout the passenger journey in order to develop additional measures which go further than the Code of Practice expects, these include:

  • Banning the sale of shots in their bars, as well as the sale of miniature bottles of spirit in duty-free outlets.
  • Introducing a yellow-card scheme for warning passengers who are observed to be borderline or too boisterous. This is usually facilitated in close cooperation with the local police force.

This commitment to tackling the anti-social minority who drink to excess, so that the vast majority of passengers can enjoy their travel, comes as the Home Office call for evidence on the operation of alcohol sales airside draws to a close. The AOA’s submission to the call for evidence highlights the lack of evidence to suggest that a change in licensing laws would result in a reduction of disruptive passenger incidents. Instead, existing laws such as the Air Navigation Order (which makes being under the influence of alcohol on a plane a criminal offence), airport by-laws applying stringent conditions on the sale and consumption of alcohol and continuing industry-led initiatives such as the One Too Many campaign and the Disruptive Passenger Code of Practice are more effective ways to tackle this issue. This is supported by the CAA’s recording of the most serious incidents, which shows incidents have stabilised in recent years, despite record passenger growth.

Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee said:

“While only a proportion of disruptive behaviour incidents are due to excessive alcohol consumption, it is clear that efforts by the industry to tackle those passengers that drink alcohol to excess, such as the measures introduced by airports and the One Too Many campaign, are having a positive impact. Not only are they making people more aware of the consequences if they drink to excess while travelling, they are providing airports and others, such as airlines, with the means to work together to tackle the minority who spoil it for the majority.

“The industry as a whole is taking disruptive passengers very seriously. Today, we underline airports’ commitment to taking the necessary steps to ensure that the majority of well-behaving passengers can continue to enjoy travelling by air. The ‘One too many’ campaign and the Code of Practice are part of this and supported by Government. Airports believe they are the best ways to deal with this issue.

“Ultimately, passengers should be aware that they have a responsibility to themselves and fellow passengers to behave appropriately. The consequences of being disruptive, including due to drinking alcohol to excess, range from being denied boarding and having to return home instead of jetting off all the way to unlimited fines, flight bans and prison sentences for the most serious offences.”