In-Flight Drinking: How Much Is Too Much?

February 25th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Booze-fueled air emergencies are making headlines. Should in-flight alcohol be grounded?

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The Responsibility Project

Should alcohol on airplanes be banned?

At a time of heightened airline security, alcohol-fueled air emergencies are making headlines.

A passenger on a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco locked himself in a lavatory, removed his shoes and shirt and began shaving, according to news reports. After he refused to come out, flight attendants blockaded the cockpit with beverage carts and armed other passengers with fire extinguishers. The plane made an emergency landing in Colorado, escorted by two F-16 fighter jets. It was reported that the passenger was drunk, having consuming five airplane-sized bottles of wine.

The pilot of a flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu made an unscheduled landing in Los Angeles after a passenger became involved in a “dispute.” News reports said the male passenger may have had “too much to drink.”

The mix of altitude and alcohol prompted the travel website FareCompare.com to ask readers if booze should now be banned onboard.

“I don’t see why liquor should be banned just because of the irresponsible behavior of a handful of people,” one reader wrote. Increase the penalty for drunken in-flight behavior, wrote another, and “make the drunk passenger responsible for the entire cost of any diversion of the plane or military escort.” Another reader doubted that a ban would solve the problem, saying, “If someone wants to drink, I’m pretty sure they can find an airport bar that will serve them. Do you get rid of those, too?”

Tell us what you think: Should in-flight alcohol be grounded?