Major cabin crew survey reveals tide of drunken and anti-social behaviour on UK flights

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An airline industry code of conduct on disruptive passengers is failing to stem the tide of drunken and anti-social behaviour at UK airports and on flights from the UK, according to a major survey involving over 4,000 cabin crew working for British-based airlines.

The survey conducted by Britain’s largest union, Unite found that 87 per cent of respondents had witnessed drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports or on flights from UK airports. 

More than three quarters (78 per cent) of those who witnessed disruptive passenger incidents at UK airports or flights from the UK said it had happened since July 2016, when the code of conduct was introduced.

With the holiday season in full swing, the findings of the survey, the biggest of its kind, will heighten calls for the code to be given teeth and tougher penalties for disruptive anti-social passenger behaviour.

Less than one in four respondents, who said they were aware of the code of conduct, thought it had been effective in reducing drunken and disruptive behaviour. 

Just 14 per cent of cabin crew said they had seen a reduction in drunken disruptive behaviour on board flights from the UK, while 16 per cent said there had been a reduction at UK airports since the code was introduced.

The survey also shows how the code is failing the travelling public. More than a quarter of cabin crew said they had witnessed behaviour which had threatened flight safety, while 40 per cent of those who had witnessed such behaviour said the incident had happened since the code was introduced. 

The shocking levels of abuse cabin crew have to contend with in carrying out their safety critical role is also laid bare. More than half of those taking part in the survey said they had suffered verbal abuse, while one in five (20 per cent) experienced physical abuse and one in ten (10 per cent) said they had suffered sexual abuse on flights from UK airports.  

Unite represents nearly 30,000 cabin crew working for a number of UK airlines.

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