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Union warns that increase in drunken air rage incidents is ‘deeply concerning’

A union has raised concerns about the increase in booze-fuelled brawls on flights, branding the air rage incidents “totally unacceptable”.

The recent mid-air fights on two Ryanair journeys from Edinburgh to Tenerife prompted discussion of the problem of alcohol and aggression on planes. Local police boarded both planes to remove the offending passengers, with one flight diverting to Porto, Portugal due to a heated argument in the cabin.

According to the European Union Air Safety Agency, the ‘air rage’ of drunk and disorderly passengers impacts 1,000 flights a year, with hefty diversion costs plaguing the most affected airlines.

Unions are now growing concerned for the safety of cabin crew.

An industrial officer with the Unite union, Pat McIlvogue, told BBC Scotland: “The proliferation in incidents of anti-social behaviour and threats towards workers at airports and on flights is deeply concerning.

“It’s totally unacceptable that any worker has to confront threats of verbal or physical abuse, and the situation needs to be urgently addressed.”

British drinking culture has normalised drinking alcohol in the airport from as early as 5am.

The Independent’s Simon Calder said: “Many travellers regard a drink while they wait for their (possibly delayed) plane as an essential part of the holiday experience.”

It is unlawful to be intoxicated aboard an aircraft, nor drink excessively once on a flight, with fines of up to £5,000 applicable if drunk passengers are found to be endangering aircraft safety.

Measures including breathalysing passengers and security seals on alcohol purchased from duty-free could be introduced in departures, while some airlines including Saudia, the national carrier for Saudi Arabia, have banned alcohol completely.

A senior member of cabin crew for a budget airline told The Independent: “Passengers need to be made to understand that tanking yourself up in the terminal isn’t going to get your holiday off to a good start.”

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