Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
New laws tackle 'air rage'
UK airlines report a 400% increase in air rage cases
Wide-ranging laws on "air rage", to crack down on disruptive behaviour by passengers on flights, have been announced by the government.
Abusive airline passengers will face up to two years in jail or a £2,000 fine under the curbs, which will specifically cover interfering with members of the crew on an aircraft.
Passengers will be disciplined for offences such as smoking, drunkenness and anti-social activities.
Earlier this week Helen Liddell, then Transport Minister, told the BBC: "We believe now that we're putting in place the kind of framework that should act not just to act as a threat to those who would consider behaving in such an obnoxious manner on board planes, but also to give a degree a safety to air crew.
"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.
UK airlines have reported a 400% increase in such cases in the past three years.
They have been calling for a new offence to cover passengers who do not directly affect the safety of an aircraft or cause criminal damage, but disrupt staff.
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.
Neil Whitehouse, 28, was given a year's jail sentence earlier this month 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 plane in the US after a fight broke out on board.
UK Politics Contents
A-Z of Parliament