Disruptive passengers risk jail time, warns government-backed campaign

By Faye Bartle |

One Too Many campaign summer 2023

One Too Many campaign signage in an airport departure lounge, and on a mobile device.

Holidaymakers passing through UK airports this summer are being encouraged to avoid drinking to excess and behave responsibly or risk facing the possible consequences, including jail time and fines of up to £80,000.

The summer push of the UK-government-backed ‘One Too Many’ campaign aims to remind passengers of the repercussions of drinking to excess while travelling, through in-terminal and in-store signage, as well as targeted social media adverts.

The industry-led initiative organised by the UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF), the Airport Operators Association (AOA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airlines UK has been relaunched.

Together, they represent most of the civil aviation and travel retail industry, from airlines and airports, to airside retailers, food and beverage outlets and duty free brands.

The campaign serves to remind holidaymakers of the serious consequences of disruptive behaviour at airports or onboard an aircraft.

Passengers deemed unfit to fly will be denied boarding; causing a flight to be cancelled could present travellers with a lifetime flying ban with that carrier; and disrupting a flight may lead to up to two years in prison.

Furthermore, delaying a flight from taking off may result in a £5,000 fine while causing an incident mid-air could incur a maximum diversion fee of £80,000.

“UKTRF and its campaign partners have been clear for many years – there is no room for disruptive behaviour of any form when travelling,” said Nigel Keal, Chairperson of the UK Travel Retail Forum.

“The issue has long been one of our industry’s highest priorities, as we have a duty to help protect passengers, customers, and the many staff members that help keep travellers safe at all stages of their journey.

“Our message to passengers is to enjoy their travel, behave responsibly, and not to ruin their holiday, or the holidays of others.

“The consequences of disruptive behaviour while travelling are very serious, and could stop you from travelling for years to come.”

Unruly passengers “a continuing concern” for air carriers

There have been no unexpected increases in reports of disruptive behaviour since Covid-19 related travel restrictions were lifted, according to Civil Aviation Authority data. However, One Too Many campaign partners are keen to drive the message home regarding responsible behaviour while travelling.

Airports are expected to be busy over the coming months, with air travel now free from Covid-19 related restrictions and traffic set to approach 100% of pre-pandemic levels this year at many UK travel hubs.

One Too Many campaign summer 2023

Left: A One Too Many Facebook advert. Right: A One Too Many Instagram advert, as 18-35 year olds nationally and in the vicinity of selected airports will receive it.

“We want everyone travelling this summer to enjoy themselves and have a good time, but it is important that they do so in a responsible way,” said Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association.

“The One Too Many campaign is aimed at reminding everyone that they have responsibility for their own actions and to make sure their behaviour does not cause problems for others.

“Airports, along with partners across the sector, will be keeping a close watch for any disruptive behaviour and will not hesitate to take action to ensure the safety of passengers and staff. This summer we’ll see many people getting away for the first time since the pandemic and it would be a shame if the actions of a few were to spoil it for the many.”

A strategy to maximise awareness

This summer, passengers will receive One Too Many campaign reminders directly on their mobile devices, in an attempt to maximise awareness.

They will also see fact-checking ‘Did You Know?’ alerts, reminding them of lesser-known airside rules, such as being banned from opening duty free purchases until they arrive at their destination.

“Unruly passengers are a continuing concern for air carriers. Though incidents are rare, an unruly passenger can pose a real threat to the safety of staff and other travellers,” said Simon McNamara, UK & Ireland Country Manager at IATA.

“While our professional crews are well trained to manage unruly passenger scenarios, it is unacceptable that rules in place for everyone’s safety are disobeyed by a small but persistent minority of passengers.

“IATA is therefore delighted to support the UK’s One Too Many Campaign, which is a stand out example of industry collaboration to effectively deal with triggers to unruly and disruptive passenger behaviour.”

Airports across the UK have been displaying eye-catching black and yellow campaign graphics physically in airside stores, on departure boards, and on their social media channels since the industry-wide campaign first launched in 2018.

The campaign is supported by the UK government, including the Department for Transport.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach towards disruptive behaviour, and we are committed to ensuring the safety and enjoyment of all passengers, as well as protecting our hardworking staff,” said Aviation Minister Baroness Vere.

“I am pleased to see the relaunch of this collaborative campaign from industry – it serves as an important reminder that for all those flying: engaging in such behaviour has serious consequences from jail time to a hefty fine. So, let’s all work together to keep our skies friendly and enjoyable for everyone.”

Facebook and Instagram ads will run nationally and at participating airports until 1 September 2023. One Too Many signage at airports remains present all year round.

READ MORE: Keal elected as UKTRF Chair; Laura Page to lead new airports directorship

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