A passenger was arrested and escorted by police from an EasyJet flight early Sunday morning. It is believed the female, who has not yet been named, was drunk and assaulted a member of the cabin crew. The woman’s husband was also removed by police.

Cabin crew were forced to restrain the woman during the flight and the plane landed safely at Southend Airport where police were able to assist.

This is not the first instance where passengers have been arrested after landing due to drunk and disorderly behaviour. In fact, the number of passengers having one too many in the departure lounge has significantly increased in the last few years. According to an investigation by ITV* 245 people were arrested at UK airports on suspicion of being drunk between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2019. 103 of those arrests were made at London’s Heathrow, the UKs busiest airport.

So, what happens if passengers drink too much at the airport?

Anti-social behaviour, whether it’s intoxication, disobeying instructions, threatening behaviour or endangering the safety of the flight, staff and passengers, can have serious repercussions.

Airlines’ train their staff to deal with all forms of disruptive behaviour, and staff on the ground have the right to refuse boarding to anyone behaving in such a manner. Cabin crew will also refuse to serve alcohol to anyone who appears to be intoxicated during the flight.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority the punishment for drunken behaviour on board a flight is a fine of up to £5,000 and two years in prison. Depending on the severity of the incident passengers that endanger the safety of the aircraft could face up to five years in prison.

If the flight is diverted, the passenger may have to repay the airline the cost of the diversion. These costs range from £10,000 to £80,000 – a high price to pay for a couple of drinks at the airport.

Can passengers claim for the holiday cost if they are refused boarding?

 No, and they have no one to blame but themselves. It may seem unfair, but potentially endangering the safety of an aircraft is a serious matter.

If passengers are refused boarding, it may be possible for them to fly at a later date once they have sobered up, but this decision will be solely down to the airline.

Those looking to submit a claim on their travel insurance should be aware that a policy will not cover any costs associated with the passengers being refused boarding due to their behaviour. This includes the cost to return home if they are diverted during a flight and land in another country.

What can passengers do to prevent this happening to them?

It really is as simple as making sure they do not drink excessively or take drugs before boarding their flight. Everyone has a different tolerance when it comes to alcohol, but during a flight the pressure in the cabin causes lower oxygen levels and passengers may feel the effects of alcohol quicker – even after one or two drinks.

If passengers find themselves next to someone who appears intoxicated, discretely report them to a member of airline staff. Occasionally intoxicated people slip past the gate staff and are allowed to board the plane. Reporting the passenger before take-off can prevent a lot of aggravation during the flight.

Unfortunately, until a regulation is put in place to restrict the amount of alcohol a passenger can consume before a flight – or a ban is put in place, these incidences are likely to continue and become more frequent. Just make sure it doesn’t happen to you. More on alcohol abroad can be found here.