09 Jun

Do you KNOW who I am?

As the summer holiday season kicks off, ABTA's Sean Tipton talks about the repercussions of bad behaviour on planes.

I don’t know what was more shocking this week, the fact that Kate Moss had to be escorted from a flight for abusive behaviour or the fact that she was on an Easyjet flight in the first place. She joins a list of badly behaved air borne celebrities, including the spectacular Gerard Depardieu who mistook the aisle for the toilet on a flight a few years ago. Nice one Gerard.

But Kate and Gerard are unfortunately not alone in their bad behaviour. We know that the holiday season must be here as the papers start to fill up with stories of diverted planes and people being escorted off by local police. Having been on board a plane where someone decided to very publicly lose the plot, I can assure you that it is very unpleasant experience for all of the other passengers.

A lot of people don’t realise that alcohol is twice as strong on a plane.

Somebody ranting and raving in a small enclosed place can be very intimidating and let’s face it, if you see a fight in the street you can cross the road, not an option on a plane. Air crew really earn their money dealing with abusive passengers and will do their best to calm people down. I remember one particularly unpleasant individual a few years ago who, when asked to stop drinking his bottle of duty free vodka, replied by hitting the stewardess over the head with it.

Re-routing a plane is the last resort, but if the captain feels that the plane, its crew and passengers are endangered, he or she will do it. The offending parties will often also be physically restrained by being tied into their seats and then escorted off the plane into a strange foreign country, then straight to a prison cell.

Clearly, in the vast majority of cases alcohol is at the root of the problem. Many people tank up in the airport bars either because they want to keep the holiday vibe going or in some cases to get a bit of Dutch courage for their fear of flying. Check in staff are entitled to refuse you boarding if you are clearly drunk and they will do it. In most cases they will put you on another flight once you’ve sobered up, but they don’t have to.

A lot of people don’t realise that alcohol is twice as strong on a plane. Because the cabin is pressurised, alcohol gets into your blood stream much more quickly. So those two pints or three pints at the bar, plus a couple of whiskey and cokes, achieve truly epic proportions and this is partly why air crew will refuse to serve drinks to passengers who they think are getting over acceptable limits.

Other unwelcome consequences of air rage for the air ragee include a possible prison sentence, the problem of getting back to the UK as many airlines will now simply refuse to carry you, and finally, the airline billing you for tens of thousands of pounds for the cost of having to redirect the plane.

For Kate and Gerard the consequences of their naughty behaviour have been a bit more, probably unwelcome, publicity. For some other people this summer it could be much more serious.