PASSENGERS will face criminal charges for drinking their own alcohol on board planes under new plans that will also mean tougher penalties for drunkenness in the air.

The new measures will mean all alcohol bought at airport shops would be placed in sealed bags after purchase in the biggest crackdown on disruption caused by drunken passengers.

Illicit consumption of alcohol is one of the greatest factors in causing disruptive behaviour on flights, the Scottish Government said.

Analysis: Drunken air passengers should pay the cost of flight detours and face bans​

It comes as 420 disruptive passenger incidents were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority in 2017.

More than one in six people - 18 per cent - who have flown in the past three years have witnessed aggressive or drunken behaviour on board, the CAA said.

However, the real extent of the problem could be more serious as many incidents are not recorded.

In one incident that did make it to court last year, two Scots forced a holiday jet to make an emergency landing before even leaving the UK.

Derek Root had downed ten shots of Jack Daniel's whiskey in the departure lounge after his flight from Glasgow to Alicante was delayed by three hours and when he boarded he and fellow passenger Alexander Gray shared a bottle of Jagermeister.


They had to be subdued by flight staff after launching a torrent of abuse and Root, from Glasgow, was jailed for eight months and Gray, from Edinburgh, was given a six-month suspended sentence.

The Scottish Government said it has pushed to ensure that illicit drinking would be a criminal offence in the overhaul.

Analysis: Drunken air passengers should pay the cost of flight detours and face bans​

It is understood, Michael Matheson, Justice Secretary, wrote to the UK Transport Secretary in December to ask that the UK Government consider an amendment to the strategy to make it clear that the illicit consumption of alcohol on board an aircraft is an offence

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Illicit consumption of alcohol on board an aircraft is one of the biggest causal factors in disruptive passenger incidents and we have asked the UK Government to amend the Air Navigation Order (strategy) to make this an offence, which will help to tackle the problem.

“There are already robust measures in place to limit drunken behaviour in all areas of airports – such as it being an offence to serve someone alcohol when they are drunk – and it is for Police Scotland and local authorities to ensure they are enforced.”

Scotland's two busiest airports have introduced their own security schemes but will also have to respond to any law changes.

Analysis: Drunken air passengers should pay the cost of flight detours and face bans​

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: "Our retailers work closely with police who are highly visible and engage with passengers and we’re also the first airport in the UK to sign up to the Best Bar None scheme to encourage safe and enjoyable atmospheres for customers and staff.

“It’s important that the success story that is aviation continues and we’ll engage with the UK Government to ensure this strategy allows this to happen and improves the passenger experience.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: “The vast majority of people who travel through airports do so responsibly and thankfully instances of disruptive behaviour are extremely rare.

"Disruptive behaviour can, however, disproportionately affect a large number of passengers, particularly if an incident occurs on board an aircraft.

"At Glasgow Airport we have a zero-tolerance approach to unacceptable behaviour.

"Through our Campus Watch initiative we work closely with our airline partners, retailers, caterers and Police Scotland to address and pre-empt disruptive behaviour.

"We want people to enjoy the start of their holiday but it’s important passengers drink responsibly and ensure they’re fit to fly.”

Analysis: Drunken air passengers should pay the cost of flight detours and face bans​

The Aviation Strategy will be put to public consultation in the autumn, with the final version published early next year.

A spokesman for Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said its members were doing "everything they can" to tackle the problem of disruptive passengers, including supporting a voluntary code of conduct.