Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Crackdown on air rage
UK airlines report a huge increase in air rage cases
Disruptive airline passengers will face up to two years in jail or a £2,000 fine under a new UK law designed to combat air rage.
The minister told the BBC: "We've listened to the airlines, we've talked to the professionals in relation to this and I think everyone is well aware there has been an increase in these incidents - there have been some pretty awful ones comparatively recently.
"It is one of the terrible indictments of our modern times that these incidents are happening with ever more frequency."
Being drunk on an aircraft, smoking in the toilet, and using a mobile phone during a flight are already punishable by up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of £5,000.
She continued: "Nobody is saying nobody should ever drink on an aeroplane, it's a nice start to a holiday to put the cares of the world behind you, but some people, sadly, take it to excess and refuse to accept the instructions of cabin crew to behave themselves."
UK airlines report a 400% increase in air rage cases in the past three years.
This would include drunkenness, smoking, or other anti-social behaviour.
The idea of a new "air rage" law was first mooted in November last year, by the then Transport Minister John Reid, following an attack on an air stewardess.
Since then, there have been several other high-profile cases.
Last week, Neil Whitehouse, 28, was jailed for a year after refusing to switch off a mobile phone on board a flight.
And in February, a dozen London-based passengers were thrown off a Jamaica-bound Boeing 767 in the US after a fight broke out on board.
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