HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The number of “air rage” incidents has skyrocketed amid the pandemic, and flight attendants say drunk passengers are a big part of the problem.
The Association of Flight Attendants calls on the FAA, airlines and airports to reduce alcohol consumption and crack down on unruly passengers.
Many passengers enjoy a relaxing trip on board, but Congressman Kai Kahele, a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, says drinking too much at high altitudes under pressure can be a toxic situation.
“As an airline pilot, physiologically it’s not smart. It is unhealthy to board a plane while under the influence of alcohol, let alone consume a large amount of alcohol, ”said Kahele.
“It contributes to those acts of aggression and reckless behavior that we see,” he added.
Nationally, the FAA has reported 4,385 incidents of unruly passenger behavior, nearly three in four of which were related to mask conflicts.
The rate has fallen by about 50% from the start of the year after the agency took a zero tolerance stance on passengers taking action.
More than 20 passengers face fines for offenses, including consuming their own alcohol.
Last Thursday, two Hawaiian Airlines flights were hijacked in one day due to flight disruptions. A Big Island man allegedly struck a flight attendant twice without provocation. The other incident may have been related to the mask.
It is not known whether the passengers were drunk, but the flight attendants union says take-out cocktails at airport bars are a nationwide problem.
“Bartenders are unable to monitor a passenger’s drinking and the passenger can drink until they board this flight,” said Taylor Garland, spokesperson for the Association of Flight. Attendants.
“Establishments and bars advertise and encourage their customers after consuming alcohol at this establishment to load three to four glasses of rum and coke and take them out,” Kahele said.
A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Transportation said the Honolulu Airport does not allow take-out alcohol, nor does the Maui Airport.
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines has banned alcohol sales until January, when the federal mask mandate is expected to expire. American Airlines will not sell alcohol in its main cabin.
Hawaiian Airlines still sells it, but “alcoholic beverages can only be consumed on board the aircraft if they are received and served by a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant,” the airline said in a statement.
The flight attendants union also wants the Justice Department to prosecute air rage incidents more aggressively.
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