Airline tries 3-drink limit to crack down on unruly fliers
A major European carrier is trying to curb alcohol-related flight disturbances by capping the number of drinks it serves to any one passenger.
New "guidelines" at Scandinavian carrier SAS suggest passengers should be cut off after three alcoholic drinks on its intra-Europe flights. Officials at the SAS – a member of the Star Alliance frequent-flier group – say the move is an attempt to crack down on problems caused by unruly fliers, The Local news site of Sweden reports.
"We had a few situations last year, but I can't go into the details," Malin Selander, head of media relations in Sweden, says to The Local. "These are not hard and fast rules, but guidelines that cabin crew can lean on so that if passengers appear to be getting too drunk they can be asked to stop drinking."
BOOKMARK: Add Today in the Sky to your favorites
Disturbances caused by intoxicated fliers have been a growing concern for airlines in recent years. In addition to safety concerns, disruptions caused by unruly fliers also can be expensive for airlines. Airlines' costs can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for flights that have to divert to offload a problem passenger.
Of course, SAS is not the only European carrier to face concerns on intoxicated fliers.
In April, discount giant Ryanair began telling customers that they can't bring booze of any kind onto its fights between Glasgow, Scotland, and the Spanish party resort of Ibiza. The route is the only one in the European discounter's large route network to get saddled with such a restriction. The ban includes duty free purchases.
And Jet2, a much-smaller discounter, has handed out lifetime bans to two allegedly drunk fliers who created disturbances on its flights this spring.
More broadly, the subject has become a priority for the airline industry as a whole.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) trade group that represents the world's big airlines in 2014 called for action to reduce the number of unruly passengers who disrupt flights.
The count of reported in-flight incidents has surged in recent years, says IATA, which issued a call last year "a balanced package of measures" to battle the problem.
"The numbers have indeed risen alarmingly over the last year or two," Tony Tyler, the CEO of the influential trade group, said last June during IATA's annual general meeting in Qatar.
Tyler said IATA has been collecting data on in-flight incidents since 2007, though he says the information submitted by the airlines is done on a voluntary basis. Between 2010 and the end of 2013, there had been 20,000 unruly passenger incidents reported by airlines, according to IATA.