Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Ryanair Cracks Down on Inebriated Passengers with Alcohol Ban

Passengers flying from the U.K. to Spain will have their carry-on bags searched for alcohol before boarding

by Fergus Cole

June 21, 2023

Photo: Ryanair, Boeing 737-800. Courtesy of Portuguese Gravity / Unsplash

Irish ultra-low-cost carrier Ryanair has warned passengers traveling from the U.K. to Spain this summer that bringing alcohol onboard will be prohibited on some popular routes in an attempt to crack down on anti-social behavior.

The budget airline announced it would strictly enforce its anti-alcohol policy in an email to customers who have already booked flights to certain Spanish destinations. In particular, passengers have been told they must not take any alcohol purchased duty-free onboard their flight and that all passengers’ carry-on bags will be searched before boarding.

Should the passenger have purchased priority boarding or have a carry-on bag that meets size requirements, they can take their alcohol to their destination by placing their bag in the aircraft hold. However, other customers who don’t have suitable carry-on bags will be asked to put their alcohol in the bin at the gate.

Photo: Ryanair, Boeing 737-800NG. Courtesy of Kevin Hackert / Unsplash.

The alcohol ban will not apply to all Ryanair flights but to selected routes from the U.K. to popular destinations in Spain. This includes flights to Alicante (ALC), Barcelona (BCN), Ibiza (IBZ), Malaga (AGP), Palma de Mallorca (PMI), and Tenerife South (TFS).

In the past, flights from the United Kingdom to popular Spanish vacation spots have had problems with intoxicated passengers. These destinations are known for their party scenes, but they are also very popular with families.

“In order to prioritize the comfort and safety of all passengers, Ryanair will implement the following restrictions on your upcoming flight to Spain,” said the airline in an email. “Customers will not be allowed to carry alcohol on board, and all cabin baggage will be searched at the boarding gates.”

“Any alcohol purchased in airport shops or elsewhere must be packed carefully in a suitable item of cabin baggage, which will be tagged at the gate and then placed in the aircraft hold free of charge if you have purchased priority boarding or have a small piece of hand luggage. If the bag is unsuitable for placing in the hold (e.g. plastic bag), then customers will be required to dispose of the alcohol in the bins provided.”

Photo: Duty Free shop. Courtesy of Alexandre Debiève / Unsplash

U.K. rules on anti-social behavior on flights are already reasonably strict, with unruly passengers liable to huge fines should they cause significant disruption or the diversion of a flight. According to the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), disruptive passengers are one of the primary reasons for flights being diverted, which can cost airlines thousands of dollars.

“The punishment for disruption varies depending on the severity,” the CAA says on its website. “Acts of drunkenness on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 ($6,400) and two years in prison. The prison sentence for endangering the safety of an aircraft is up to five years.”

“Disruptive passengers may also be asked to reimburse the airline for the cost of the diversion. Diversion costs typically range from £10,000 – £80,000 ($12,800 – $102,000) depending on the size of the aircraft and where it diverts to.”

The number of disruptive passengers on flights has also been found to have risen sharply in recent months. According to a recent report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the number of incidents involving unruly passengers on flights across the globe grew by 47% in 2022 compared to the previous year, with one of the biggest types of disruptive behavior being intoxication.