More than 400 air travellers arrested for being drunk

Hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of being drunk at airports or on planes, investigation reveals.

Tom Harrison
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Posted 5 SEPTEMBER 2019

An investigation has found that more than 400 airline passengers have been arrested on suspicion of being drunk in the past two years.

The figures come from police data obtained by the PA news agency. They show that travellers who abused staff, were too intoxicated to fasten their seatbelts and who urinated in public were among those held.

At least 245 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk at an airport in Britain between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2019, the figures – obtained following freedom of information requests – show.

A further 204 arrests were made relating to alleged drunkenness on planes.

The ages of those detained ranged from 20 to 58.

Requests for information were sent to the 16 police forces that cover Britain’s 20 busiest airports. The most arrests – 103 – were made at Heathrow. This was followed by Gatwick (81), Glasgow (47) and Liverpool (40).

Penalties for drunkenness

Passengers convicted of being drunk on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 or up to two years' imprisonment.

The sale of alcohol once a passenger has passed through security at international airports in England and Wales is not regulated by licensing laws.

This means rules intended to stop sales to drunk customers and prevent irresponsible promotions do not apply.

Last year, the Home Office launched a consultation on whether the law should be changed. It closed in February, but no decision has been announced.

A survey by Unite of over 4,000 cabin crew working for British-based airlines in August 2017 found that 87% of respondents reported witnessing drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports or on flights from UK airports.