Report: Crackdown on airport drinking lessens air rage

Report: Crackdown on airport drinking lessens air rage

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Gatwick airport is surrounded by snow in West Sussex on December 19, 2010.Weather conditions brought the UK's major airports to a standstill yesterday forcing many passengers traveling during the Christmas period to sleep overnight at Heathrow and Gatwick. Flights were severely delayed today as airports struggled to cope with the backlog of flight schedules. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

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by BEN MUTZABAUGH

USA TODAY

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 11:42 AM

A crackdown on passenger drinking at London's Gatwick Airport appears to have "greatly reduced" the number of alcohol-fueled in-flight incidents on one route to a popular party destination, a British leisure-focused airline says.

The BBC reports Sussex Police have launched an initiative to patrol Gatwick bars and restaurants, keeping an eye out for fliers who may be drinking excessively and could become disruptive once they board their flights.

So far, the patrols have targeted areas near the gates for Monarch Airlines' late-night flights to Ibiza, a popular Spanish beach and party destination. Monarch and police say numerous Ibiza-bound passengers have started in-flight problems during the past few years after drinking to excess prior to their flights.

The Telegraph of London adds "airport staff have also been monitoring passengers who may be tempted to break into their duty free early and appear to be drunk or rowdy."

The move to combat the problem comes from one of Monarch's training and support officers – who's also a former flight attendant, according to the Daily Mail of London. The worker, Jane Goodchild, tells the newspaper her goal was to help Monarch combat anti-social behavior among fliers, both on flights and at the airport.

Monarch also has taken its own proactive measures, emailing its customers with a warning that excessive drunkenness will not be tolerated.

"Since we have begun working with our partners the problem has reduced considerably," Jean Irving, Sussex Police licensing and public safety manager, says to the Telegraph. "The pubs and bars have put in place extra measures to ensure alcohol is not sold to those people who are becoming intoxicated and police patrols now go into pubs at the airport and provide advice to passengers about the effects of drinking alcohol and flying."

The airline and its crews retain the final decision on whether a passenger has had too much to drink prior to a flight, but Monarch says the police initiative appears to be paying off.

A Monarch spokeswoman tells the BBC the airline is still collecting data from its crews' flight reports, but says it appears the number of booze-related incidents on Ibiza flights has been "greatly reduced."

BBC says the program, launched last summer, has been so successful that its findings will be presented next month at the International Conference on Disruptive Airline Passenger Behaviour.

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