Europes largest low-cost airline, Ryanair is calling foul when it comes to drunken and disruptive behaviour onboard its aircraft. And now the airline is pointing the finger of blame at airport pubs and shops who sell alcohol to passengers before boarding – especially at those based in the United Kingdom.
Ryanair is no stranger to drunken incidents occurring on its planes and the last few months have seen the number of problems dramatically increase. The airline cites figures from the Civil Aviation Authority, the UK’s industry regulator that showed “disruptive passenger incidents” had increased by a staggering 600% between 2012 and 2016.
Admittedly, not all of these incidents were fuelled by alcohol but Ryanair claims that most were. The airline says that it’s unfair it should be left to deal with drunken passengers as airport bars and Duty-Free shops profit from irresponsibly selling alcohol to customers.
In response to the growing problem, Ryanair has printed a simple three point manifesto that it thinks should be adopted by British airport’s to help stem the flood of potentially dangerous incidents its cabin crew have to deal with. The airline’s demands include:
- Banning the sale of alcohol in bars before 10 am
- Tracking alcohol sales through the use of boarding cards
- Limiting how much alcohol passengers can buy when their flights are delayed
Realising that it also needs to take action, Ryanair has already put in place some dramatic measures. On the carrier’s most notorious routes from Manchester and Glasgow Prestwick to Alicante and Ibiza – popular with stag and hen parties, as well as students – passengers are no longer allowed to take Duty-Free alcohol onboard. On all other flights, Ryanair has even banned passengers from drinking their Duty-Free purchases while on the aircraft.
In June, Ryanair made headlines for all the wrong reasons when a couple were filmed apparently having sex in front of stunned onlookers. The incident aboard a flight bound for Rome wasn’t stopped by cabin crew despite objections from passengers sat around the couple. Again, Ryanair blamed the incident on “drunkenness”.
And if that wasn’t enough, in May a Ryanair flight to Majorca had to be met by police on its arrival on the Spanish island after a stag party started fighting. A fellow passenger claimed the men had been drinking wine and shots before starting to swear and brawl amongst one another.
Speaking on behalf of the airline, Kenny Jacobs commented: “It’s completely unfair that airports can profit from the unlimited sale of alcohol to passengers and leave the airlines to deal with the safety consequences. This is a particular problem during flight delays when airports apply no limit to the sale of alcohol in airside bars and restaurants.”
He continued: “Given that all our flights are short-haul, very little alcohol is actually sold on board, so it’s incumbent on the airports to introduce these preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights.”
Of course, Ryanair is right – to a certain extent. The last thing you want is for a drunk passenger, posing a risk to the safety of an aircraft and its passengers. And Ryanair is quick to point out that most of these passengers wouldn’t have time to get so drunk on the average length of their flights.
So is Ryanair suggesting that the passenger is drunk and unfit to fly before they board the aicraft? If that’s the case, perhaps the airline needs to look closer home – perhaps through the training of its ground staff and cabin crew to identify problem passengers and stop them getting onboard in the first place. Or perhaps that plan would damage their famous ‘on time departure’figures.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.