UK Will Examine the Way Alcohol is Sold at Airports
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, recently appointed aviation minister by new British Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced he will examine the way alcohol is sold at airports, following a spate of incidents on planes involving drunk passengers. He also indicated that he was considering means of interdicting passengers who may have imbibed too much alcohol.
It’s not a phenomena limited to the British Isles. In the US, stopping passengers who are inebriated is a responsibility of the Passenger Service Agents, but it is a difficult task in the best of circumstances. PSA’s primary assignment is to board everyone quickly to avoid expensive delays. Further, many passengers come to the gate with their tickets; so (s)he has seconds to assess the risk (pulling someone out of line is not a great way to earn promotions—if wrong, the mistake not likely to be absolved).
If the Lord of Wimbledon were to move to the US (maybe not him physically, but his sentiment [and/or spirit]), limiting liquor sales would be bad business for airlines. According to an ACI study the average customer spends about $5 on food and beverage. Under an Ahmad rule, there could be a diminution of these revenues and a concomitant need for greater fees from the airlines.
This suggests that airport management might not want to continue in a passive role. By being proactive, an airport prohibition rule might be avoided. Since most such public facilities are locational monopolies, such important, but “unfriendly” intervention will not likely result in passenger retaliation against the airport. Whereas when an airline stops someone who has had too much to drink, the passenger will likely remember and choose not to fly on that carrier in the future.
Lord Ahmad may not be a popular man in England among certain segments, but airports and airlines around the world should thank him for flagging this issue for proactive action.