Cheap inflight drinks blamed for air rage rise

TUI flight diverted to Birmingham after mid-air emergency

Airlines have been accused of fuelling air rage while they profit from multi-buy alcohol deals.

The Sunday Express has uncovered scores of examples of cut-price drinks offers which campaigners believe encourage air rage incidents.

The findings come just months after two flight attendants were left bloodied and bruised after an unruly passenger alleged to be drunk beat them up on an easyJet plane travelling from Gatwick to Faro, Portugal.

The latest figures also reveal the number of mass brawls, sexual assaults and physical violence on flights soared to 1,028 in 2022 – nearly triple the figure for 2019.

EasyJet offers an “any two spirits for £10.50” deal as well as “two for £9.50” offers on beers, wines and cocktails such as Aperol Spritz.

Rival airline TUI has a similar set of offers including, “buy two wines for £11”, “buy two Heineken, Mag-ners or BrewDog for £9” and “buy any 5cl spirit and mixer for £7.50”.

Jet2 offers a three beer and cider deal for £13.50 under the banner, “crack open and enjoy…”, with similar “two for £12.50” deals on premium wines and spirits. The airline also promotes a “two for £10” deal on cocktails such as “All Shook Up Strawberry Dalquiri” and “All Shook Up Passion Fruit Martini”.

UK airlines have a duty to report cases involving intoxicated, violent or unruly passengers to the Civil Aviation Authority. MPs are due to debate whether a change in law is needed to address the problem.

Gareth Johnson, Tory MP for Dartford, says he backs banning “violent people who cause mayhem on planes from flying”.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: “Though the vast majority of journeys are trouble-free, there are cases every year where people’s flights are disrupted or even diverted because of drunk rowdy passengers.

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“Airlines and airports have a responsibility to work together to ensure alcohol is sold and consumed responsibly both before and during flights, and should put passengers before profit, by limiting promotions that encourage excessive drinking.”

Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: “Excessive drunken behaviour on planes can make people feel uncomfortable and unsafe. It’s important airlines and airports have sensible policies in place, such as matching the licensing hours of normal premises.

“It’s also important people are not encouraged to drink to excess by irresponsible multi-buy discounts.”

Sue Taylor, head of alcohol policy for Balance, the North East Alcohol Programme, said: “The cheaper that alcohol is, the more available it is, the more we see an impact in terms of ill health, crime and disorder.

“We need to look beyond blaming individuals and look at the wider environment where alcohol is being irresponsibly priced to encourage drinking well above low-risk limits.”

EasyJet, said: “We have strict guidelines about the consumption of alcohol onboard and our crew are trained to refuse alcohol to anyone who appears to be under the influence of alcohol. We refute any suggestion this promotes increased individual consumption as the deal is designed to provide value to customers travelling together.”

TUI said: “The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our highest priority.

“We do not serve alcohol to passengers who are disruptive or noticeably under the influence of alcohol.”

Jet2 was contacted for comment.

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