Unfortunately, when passengers experience a flight delay because of a drunken passenger onboard the aircraft, the airline is not at fault. Therefore the sober, well behaved passengers are not entitled to flight delay compensation.
It would appear that the problem is not exclusive to the UK. The Australians have taken measures to ‘crack down’ on drunk passengers.
Australian Federal Police has begun doing spot checks at airport lounges and bars in an attempt to prevent boozy behaviour on flights. Any passengers deemed too drunk and at risk of causing a disruption to either the flight schedule or the flight itself, will be stopped from boarding the plane.
If you are in an airport bar in Australia anytime soon, make sure you do not drink too much. You must remain able to follow instructions, because if you cannot do as you are told before boarding, you will not be allowed to board the aircraft.
It will be interesting to see the results and to see if it has an impact on the number of flight delays. On top of that would it result in less damage to the flight schedule if a similar idea was applied to all the UK's major airports?
In the summer, Jet2 decided that enough was enough and banned all booze on early morning flights. The same airline was forced to ban 3 passengers from travelling with them for 12 months due to illicit behaviour. A further 3 passengers from the same flight were refused flights home from what was likely to have been a booze filled holiday.
A member of the UK Government wants to bring in a raft of new legislation to prevent holidaymakers being frustrated by drunk passengers. They would include banning bars and cafes from selling booze until a certain time.
The main concern for airlines is not necessarily a few drunk people (unless they become aggressive/violent) or even the flight delays drunk passengers might cause; it is the distress drunk passengers can cause for the other passengers on board.
It is illegal to be drunk while a passenger on an aircraft, even though you can buy alcohol on a flight. That leaves it to the airline staff, who are already responsible for the safety of everyone onboard, to decide when a passenger has had enough.
When a passenger becomes aggressive or breaks the law, there are always police officers waiting for said passenger when the plane lands. It is not uncommon for a drunk passenger to be arrested.