Drunks On A Plane: Whose Fault Is That?

Ukraine’s interior minister and his son were detained and prevented from boarding a flight in Frankfurt after what German police described as a drunken, shouting, cell-phone-throwing fit, Reuters reports.

Some news reports said Lufthansa crew refused to let the men board. Others said police detained the men at the airport.

This all comes rather hard on the heels of the case of a British woman who is accused of trying to bite a flight attendant on the leg after taking pills, drinking wine and consuming liquid soap from the restroom. Which raises some questions about who’s responsible for keeping drunks off planes.

An Australian magistrate recently faulted Qantas for  allowing a man to board a plane after he drank six or seven beers, and for serving him two more drinks on board before cutting him off, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The drunk passenger subsequently insulted and threatened other passengers before getting into what the newspaper called a “stoush,” which I discovered means “fight,” with another passenger. Further curious clicking revealed that “stonker” means “to hit hard” or “to knock unconscious.” (I love Australian slang. I’m going to study it as a foreign language.)

Sorry, I digress.  The magistrate thought that Qantas had some responsibility for all that stouching and stonkering.

“Where’s Qantas’s duty of care to other passengers … if they let drunks on the plane?” asked Magistrate Paul Heaney. “They’ve got to show a bit of courage, these airlines.”

I dunno. Flight crews and gate agents can’t necessarily be expected to pick out who’s drunk and who’s not — or more importantly who’s drunk and orderly and who’s drunk and disorderly. Cell-phone throwing is a giveaway, but you can’t count on it going down that way.

The answer may be, as some have suggested, banning alcohol sales on commercial aircraft. It would relieve flight attendants of bartender duties and passengers of drunken seat mates.

On the other hand, maybe the next time some screamer hits the turps and gets off his face on a plane, we should all stonker him. (Thanks KoalaNet for the Australian slang.)

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