The party may be coming to an end where the clandestine imbibing of BYOB liquor in flight is concerned. Duty-free shops in the UK could soon be required to place any liquor sold at airports in sealed bags.
So far, policymakers in the UK working to create a new comprehensive Aviation Strategy document have been somewhat preoccupied with the challenges presented by the nation’s upcoming departure from the European Union. In addition to negotiating the future of post-Brexit air travel, however, regulators have also found time to tackle environmental issues, hidden airline fees, as well as problems posed by drunk and disorderly passengers.
Sky News reports that lawmakers are leaning in favor of regulations requiring that all duty-free liquor purchases sold to passengers be placed in sealed plastic bags to discourage the in-flight consumption of alcohol. Currently, alcohol purchases are only placed in sealed packages if a passenger’s journey requires one or more connecting flights. While it is against the law to be intoxicated on a passenger plane, in the UK, there is currently no legal prohibition to passengers bringing alcohol on board and consuming it during the flight (though all UK airlines have policies in place prohibiting the practice). This legal grey area has caused trouble in midair more than once.
The move is just one way policymakers hope to curb the epidemic of disruptive behavior on flights. Lawmakers have also floated the idea of limiting alcohol sales at airport lounges and increasing legal penalties for drunk and disorderly behavior in the air.
“Disruptive behavior can ruin flights for both passengers and crew,” Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg told The Scotsman this week. “Airports and airlines have made good progress in addressing this behavior, but with incidents on the rise we want to examine the existing prevention work and penalties to see what more can be done.”
U.K. airlines, including Jet2 and EasyJet, have been lobbying the regulators to close the loophole which allows passengers to bring bottles of booze purchased at duty-free shops in the airport directly onto flights. The fact that the policy change is being considered for inclusion in the final Aviation Strategy has been lauded by the carriers. The airlines are also actively pushing for rules requiring a strict two drink per customer limit at airport bars and restaurants located within the U.K.
A draft Aviation Strategy paper will be released for public comment this fall. The final document is expected to be released in early 2019.