Long, sterile hallways, conveyor belts of people carrying luggage, and bad food—it's no surprise that people turn to alcohol to fight the doldrums of airports.
These strange, transitory hubs are also place where travellers stock up on tax-free booze before embarking on metal tubes which are beyond the reach of law enforcement for hours on end. It's not exactly the best environment to be stuck next to a Chinese woman who's chugged an entire bottle of Cognac, or a Scotch enthusiast who really wants urinate and to smoke duty-free cigarettes.
But that's the risk one assumes when climbing aboard a commercial airliner, and, needless to say, it only takes one drunken passenger to scare the crap out of everyone at 30,000 feet.
In an effort to crack down on obnoxious flyers, the British government has decided to minimize the amount of in-flight damage that can be caused by duty-free liquor. In a recent speech, British MP and Department for Transport official Robert Goodwill announced plans to make it harder to get fucked up on airplanes.
"Airlines need to look at their approach to serving alcohol on board. [...] A confined space, filled with families and other travellers, and while in the air out of the reach of traditional law enforcement," Goodwill said. "There's little chance that a drunken passenger could pose a threat to the plane itself, but some have tried."
Goodwill then gave the recent example of an unruly flyer who tried to open the side door of a British Airways flight 33,000 feet over the Atlantic and had to be forcefully subdued by fellow passengers.
Officials in certain airports, like Manchester and Glasgow, will be forcing travelers to seal their booze in a plastic bag before boarding their flights. And the tightened measures come just in time for the holidays.
"We know that for a proportion of passengers, their holiday begins in the airport bar, whether they arrive at the airport at 7 in the evening or 7 in the morning," Goodwill said. "For some passengers, a delayed flight means that the first drink of the holiday quickly becomes the first three, four, or five drinks. We don't want to stop passengers enjoying themselves or prevent people from flying."
In Edinburgh, airport officials will also be working in partnership with police "to maintain a visual presence around bar areas and give potential troublemakers a gentle word of caution."
This might seem like a little much, but in matters of alcohol, an ounce of prevention is worth a gallon of cure.