Banning alcohol in airports is the worst idea I’ve ever heard | Luke Holland


Excuse me while I cry into my pre-noon pint at the proposed crackdown on selling booze in airports. And its all the fault of the #banterlads

Next time youre in an airport enjoying a cheeky pre-breakfast snifter youd better make it a double, because things might be about to change.

Following several well-publicised incidents of flights being disrupted by, lets say, thoroughly refreshed individuals, newly appointed aviation minister Tariq Ahmad is proposing a crackdown on the sale of alcohol at UK airports. This is in response to concerns raised by airlines quite reasonably peeved that theyre the ones who have to deal with the fallout of a brutal regimen of pre-flight pints.

Ahmad says he wants to create an environment in which youre going to be safe and secure. Fine. I dont think many of us have any desires to travel on an unsafe, unsecure aeroplane. And the knock-on effects of the rowdy and tanked-up having to be ejected from flights to other passengers is huge: delays. Noise. Missed connections. Or, if youre sitting near Gerard Depardieu, some new trainers.

Yes, drinking at airports has its downsides. I think all our hearts sink in audible unison when a troupe of #banterlads sits in the row in front of you wearing T-shirts with Chlamydi-andy and Captain Shag brandished on them. Then theres the bickering drunk couple, which is funny for five minutes, but not five hours. Or worst of all, the lone drunkard, pink of cheek and musty of odour; a casualty of a delayed flight with nothing to pass the time besides the challenge of sampling every beer in Wetherspoons, and who will without fail fall asleep on your shoulder and dribble.

The thing to remember, though, is that the these people are at worst an irritant, and at best an incentive to earn enough money so you can afford to travel in business. They dont disrupt flights. In fact, the kind of behaviour that does is exceptionally rare.

At least 442 people were arrested in the UK for drunken airport loutery between 2014 and 2016. Annoying, sure. But lets give this some perspective: in 2014 alone, British airport terminals handled 238 million passengers. Thats one raving vomity lush per 538,461 passengers. Banning airport boozing because of this infinitesimal few would be a colossal overreaction.

It also ignores the millions of passengers who enjoy drinking in airports without micturating in a bin. Myself and millions of others see an airports laissez-faire attitude to slurping the dizzy-water as an integral part of a holiday. The giddy recklessness of buying a strong drink at 8am without passers-by giving you a look usually reserved for discarded offal is one of lifes greatest pleasures. Also, Im a nervous flyer. It will be far more preferable for my fellow passengers if Im gently sozzled than if Im sober and screaming about how were all about to die in a fireball of molten inevitability.

And lets not forget that flying, the whole rigmarole of it, is rubbish. Getting to the airport at least two hours before takeoff. The riffling-through-your-suitcase-and-seeing-your-Batman-underpants indignity of security. The endless queues. You cant smoke. Foods expensive. Everywhere, there are awful people and their awful children. All this in addition to that highly unlikely yet no less bum-clenching possibility that, after youve absorbed all this misery like a white-hot sponge of coiled rage, the planes just going to plummet to Earth like a vast javelin aimed directly at hell anyway. The only thing that can possibly make flying any of it remotely bearable is booze. Which is what makes this preposterous, joyless, nannying intervention so alarming.

And what does the government know anyway? Either they are career politicians or from high-flying worlds like corporate finance, and I bet theyve never had to wedge their knees into an economy legroom allowance the size of a sick bag. How would they know that the only thing that can dull the agony of two displaced kneecaps is Glenfiddich?

So I propose this: for a whole year, all members of the government have to travel economy with the rest of us. No queue jumps. No preferential treatment. Nothing. Then, and only then, can they truly consider whether banning booze in airports is a good idea. When common sense prevails they can buy me a pint. Ill take mine at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 6am. Cheers.

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