I’ve something of a love-hate relationship with airports. Having spent the past three years of my life living abroad, I’ve become used to the whole process of waking up unreasonably early, getting felt-up at security because I forgot the change in my pocket, then waiting around for two hours until Ryanair delays my flight. It’s a routine that gets old pretty quickly.
That being said, there are always a few silver-linings. The promise of a breakfast at the Giraffe cafe always makes the six-AM starts a little more bearable, for instance.
Best of all though, is the people watching. Airports can be strangely heartwarming places if you watch long enough. At Christmas you get to see families reunite. In Summer, the terminal is full of families and friends finally leaving for their long-awaited holidays. Regardless of the time of year, or even the time of day, and there’ll be a stag-do drinking and laughing at the bar.
It’s bits like this that add a bit of fun and excitement to the whole experience. All the stress and annoyance that come with flying melt away when you realise you can finally relax, grab a beer, and fully begin your holiday.
And yet, as always, the state is now considering taking this away, and prohibiting airport bars from serving alcohol in the morning.
It’s probably wise for me to add in a disclaimer before I start dismantling this: I am not advocating early-morning drinking. Rather, I am arguing against the typical overreach into personal choice and responsibility that the state is exhibiting here.
Now that that’s out of the way…
The idea of prohibiting the early sale of alcohol seems to stem from the increase in drunk-and-disorderly behaviour at airports in recent years. With cases like the flight from Manchester to Ibiza, which had to be turned around after just 36 minutes due to a drunken passenger, you can kind of understand why people might be trying to kerb this.
Yet, this approach is is rather ill-thought out. First and foremost, it’s hard to to figure out why only early-morning drinking is being targeted; are drunken tourists better behaved on later flights?
Besides this slightly-confusing aspect, the crux of my issue with such a policy, shared by the JD Wetherspoon brand of pubs, is that it ultimately punishes the majority of passengers for the actions of a very small, poorly behaved minority. The thousands of tourists flying each Summer for their holiday are to be denied the small saving grace of a drink after security, all because a few people can’t handle themselves after a few?
Even this would be permissible, however, if there were no other way to prevent the few cases where a boozed-up tourist causes a nuisance or disruption. I could understand the logic of restricting alcohol to all passengers if there was no way to separate and control those who get out of hand.
However, this is fully doable without the need for new laws and registration on how airports and airlines can conduct their business. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA): ‘Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers that they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew or its passengers.’
In addition, passengers who let themselves become to drunk can already be punished with a £5,000 fine and two years in prison. Both of these measures provide ways of singling-out overly drunk passengers, without punishing the well-majority.
Collective punishment is never fun, and it’s never fair. Airlines and airports already have the ability to make drunken passengers fully accountable for their actions; getting the state involved and tightening-up licensing laws would be nothing more than an overreaction to a problem that already has much fairer solutions.
Flying can be a stressful, irritating experience. Let’s not deny passengers one of the few redeeming features, and stop them from starting their holidays early.