The story goes like this. Alyson Beaudoin-Goodman, flying from Yellowknife to Calgary, found herself seated next to a man who, obviously, had too much to drink. In his intoxicated state, he made inappropriate remarks, was “in her face” and generally made her feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately for her, there was no getting away from him. You’re at close quarters in an airplane. And on this particular two-hour flight, there was no place else to sit.
According to the young lady, she asked a flight attendant if she could be moved but the answer was, we’re all full.
The young lady and her inebriated seatmate parted ways in Calgary, and she flew on to her Newfoundland destination.
However, the experience on the flight from Yellowknife to Calgary so upset her that she decided to go to the media with her tale.
That immediately prompted a lot of discussion on the issue of whether or not alcohol should be served on airlines. In our minds, we shouldn’t even be having that discussion. It’s just plain common sense. Serving of alcohol on board commercial flights is simply a bad idea.
Not only does it lead to scenarios whereby people like Ms. Beaudoin-Goodman have to endure a miserable travel experience because of someone else’s intoxicated behavior; but alcohol and flying are a safety hazard.
News reports of planes having to land because of unruly behaviours of inebriated passengers are all too common.
Here in this province we often hear of airplanes having to put down in Goose Bay or Gander to eject travellers who are not only being a nuisance to other passengers, but a danger to the flight.
Even if an intoxicated person is a so-called “quiet drunk” - nodding off to sleep like a baby - they become a threat in any scenario that involves an emergency landing. Intoxicated, they do not have the same powers of reasoning or logical thinking, or the same level of motor skills or reflexes that would be necessary in an emergency situation.
The drunk becomes a danger, not only to themselves but also to the rest of their travelling companions. The serving of alcohol on airlines is outdated. Consider this, smoking on airlines was banned years ago for safety and consideration of all passengers.
Under federal regulations there is a long list of items you cannot carry onto an airplane. Compared to a drunk passenger, fingernail clippers are relatively innocuous if you think about it.
The bottom line is, the cart with the drinks should be divested of anything alcoholic. And passengers who show signs of inebriation should not be allowed to board a flight. While they’re at it, federal regulators should think about shutting down bars in airports. It’s a matter of public safety. The only other option is for airlines to offer up alcohol-free flights, in a number equal to the alcohol-available flights, to give passengers an option.
Ultimately, though, it is high time for our federal government to enact legislation to ban the serving of alcohol on any flights travelling within Canada.
Perhaps the only reason it hasn’t happened before is that people don’t take the time to publicly complain about intoxicated passengers, and airlines have very rarely had to defend themselves in a lawsuit launched by a customer because of a drunk, unruly passenger.
Maybe if more people like Ms. Beaudoin-Goodman speak up, things will change.
For that, we applaud her and encourage others to follow her lead.
– Barbara Dean-Simmons