Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

The time has come: Stop serving alcohol on planes

Posted by sanityinjection on July 28, 2008

We have all read the news blurbs about a plane flight that has to make an emergency landing because of an unruly passenger. When you get to the part about what set the passenger off, it’s almost *always* the same thing: “The rampage occurred when a flight attendant denied the women alcohol because they were visibly intoxicated, police said.”

Why do we continue to put up with this foolishness? Not only is it a safety issue, but the massive inconvenience to everyone if a plane has to be diverted must be considered. It should not be the job of a flight attendant to make decisions about whether someone is drunk or not. If we can ban smoking and a whole host of carry-on items for safety reasons, then we can stop serving alcohol on airplanes. Let people buy their own nip bottles from the duty-free shop if they are so desperate for a drink in the air.

Unfortunately, selling alcohol to the coach class passengers is profitable for the airlines, so they are in no hurry to take up my suggestion. I wonder if anyone has stopped to calculate how much of that profit is offset by the losses every time this stupidity occurs.

Here’s the latest example:


15 Responses to “The time has come: Stop serving alcohol on planes”

  1. YES YES YES !!! Stop giving Alcohol to plane passengers!!!
    After all, if people are bored, TO BAD !!! Read a book, play a card game with your neighbour, have a much needed nap !!!

    The Plane’s now a days, should be trying to watch THEIR spending habits anyways, with all this freaking Gas cost !!!

    If NONE of the Aircraft have it, then ALL THE BETTER !!!
    Just ensure that some customers/passengers, don’t have little bottles stashed anywhere though !

  2. sanityinjection said

    Sheila, I think it would be too hard to prevent passengers from bringing their own bottles on board – if they sell it in the airport shops, you can bring it on the plane.

  3. Dan said

    I call faulty logic on your argument :). Just because “A” is often publicized, doesn’t mean it actually occurs that often at all.

    Yes we have heard many stories about planes landing and removing intoxicated and disruptive passengers. However, flip the perspective around. The percentage of flights where someone becomes disruptive and needs to be removed is absolutely tiny.

    This is a matter of personal responsibility and punishment that falls well within current law, rather than something that requires a change in airline operations (let alone legislature).

  4. Dan said

    ps. Civil law too: if every vacationer who lost a day of their vacation and every business person who missed a vital meeting sue *the intoxicated passenger* for a single day’s worth of civil damages instead of silently fuming at the airline the consequences to the disruptive person would be huge enough to ruin them (after all there can be hundreds of people on a flight).

    As long as this consequence is publicized the problem becomes self-correcting.

  5. sanityinjection said

    Really interesting point about the lawsuit. However, a good lawyer would sue the airline, not the passenger, for negligence, arguing they should have seen it coming. (You always sue the party with the most money.) A few of *those* lawsuits and I guarantee alcohol service on planes will become a thing of the past.

  6. Dan said

    I agree, but that isn’t the correct action really. Because, yes, the airline could see it coming, but that’s a factor of the large number of people who fly. Not that the airline is doing anything wrong or unsafe which I think is your original point?

    The passenger is the one who is being unsafe, but no individual passenger is likely to be unsafe so you should not make the assumption that they will be and have a blanket policy of not serving alcohol.

    This is no different than an attempt to ban the serving of alcohol in an entire state because you KNOW that somewhere in the state someone is going to get in a fight that night and possibly kill someone. If the airliner gets sued enough, they will surely stop serving alcohol because they are business people and can run the numbers, but that doesn’t make it their fault any more than it would be the state’s fault for allowing drinking.

    I guarantee that less than 1 out of a 100,000 flights is delayed due to an unruly passenger. We should be pointing our frustration with the situation squarely at the passenger concerned, not trying to get the airline to change their policy in a way that impacts the rest of us.

  7. sanityinjection said

    I did not mean to suggest at all that the idiot passengers should not be held fully accountable for their actions. However, I don’t believe your Prohibition analogy is a good one. Safety concerns are necessarily more paramount on a plane than elsewhere, because of the confined space and limited ability to exit. If someone is being drunk and unruly in a restaurant or bar, the police can be called, and patrons can leave if it becomes disturbing to them. On a plane, there are no police – the flight crew must handle it, and passengers cannot flee but must endure the whole episode. The possibility that the unruly passenger or passengers could endanger the lives of everyone on the plane is very real. Thus,, when you say these incidents are “1 in 100,000”, I’m sure you’re right – but the possible consequences of such incidents outweigh their infrequency. Should we stop stocking planes with inflatable life vests because the chances of a water crash are even less than 1 in 100,000?

  8. Dan said

    Injury due to a drunken fellow passenger has almost never occurred that I am aware of. Certainly less than my hypothesized 1-in-100,000 instances of a plane even being delayed (since that would certainly cause a plane to be delayed or landed). And absolutely never that I am aware of has a plane ever been downed by a drunken passenger (the “possible consequences” that I think you mean).

    Apropos, I think I significantly over-estimated the number of incidences. There are over 30,000 passenger flights a day in the U.S. and we don’t hear about planes landing and ejecting passengers every 3rd day. Although I admit we probably don’t hear about minor gate delays.

    100,000 flights between incidents (underestimate) x 100 passengers a flight (underestimate) = 1,000,000 passengers only 100 of who have to deal with an unruly passenger, and an insignificant amount of whom have ever been physically injured by one.

    Despite the media excitability these events cause, once you run the numbers that potential danger is really not a strong enough public health concern to warrant imposing it upon everyone else.

    I would *almost* take the bet that by hours in a plane vs. hours on the ground there there is a lower likelihood of being injured on the on the plain by a drunken passenger (esp. once you consider drunken driving).

    So my final word: Hands off my Bloody Mary! *stabbity*

  9. sanityinjection said

    Submitted as additional evidence:

  10. sanityinjection said

    Another unruly passenger, and surprise, alcohol was involved:

    Although the passenger was already drunk when she boarded the plane, it seems clear that it was the flight crew’s refusal to serve her a second drink that set her off. If no alcohol was served on the plane at all, I argue there is no incident here.

  11. Ms. D said

    Sometimes alcohol is the only thing that will get some of us through a plane ride! What about us stressed out people that feel humans weren’t meant to be miles above the ground but who must fly due to circumstances? Can’t we get a little sloshed just to make it through? 🙂 I think prohibition on the airlines MIGHT keep a plane from being delayed, maybe a few times a year, BUT think of all the people who wouldn’t be able to fly anymore because they can’t relax??

    And there goes the “mile high” club, sanity! I’m sure most of those cases are alcohol related! You are much too sensible!

    BTW, “limited ability to exit”?? Oh geez, that’s another reason I hate flying!!

  12. sanityinjection said

    Have your drinks in the airport before you get on the plane.

  13. Ms. D said

    But if I get sloshed before I get on the plane, couldn’t it still be grounded if I need medical attention? How does that solve the problem!?

  14. sanityinjection said

    I haven’t seen that happen too often. 9 times out of 10, the disturbance happens when the flight crew informs an already drunk passenger that they will not be served any more alcohol, and the passenger throws a tantrum. Eliminating the serving of alcohol on planes would eliminate such disturbances.

  15. Ban all airlines that stop serving alcohol instead. I have traveled for 45 years for business and pleasure. Maybe two times in 1000 flights have there been a problem ! I enjoy my wine and or other drink quietly and it is a blessing in the sky. Just because and odd bum makes noice shall the rest of us millions of travelers suffer???

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