Drunk & High In The Sky

Everyone who flies has a plane saga. It usually details the time spent waiting for the plane to take off, the nightmare landing, sitting next to a crying child or someone who they, quite adventurously, believed was a fire marshal, and just how awful it was to find their bag at baggage claim.

As individuals frequently fly, their coping methods for being trapped in a metal tube, 30,000 ft above ground varies. Some sit fetal position for the full-fledged seven hours, while others opt for a more relaxing method of incense and deep breathing, Maybe you bring a book, a magazine, talk up the steward or stewardess. Then there are those who take advantage of the drink service and decide it’s happy hour in Economy.

You never know where you’ll be when intoxication strikes! Imagine, you’re all set, laptop open, or just starting a new book, your neck pillow in full fluff, and the extremely hairy man next to you decides to start drinking like it’s the end of the world. Maybe you politely give the shoulder, turn a bit (hopefully you’re in the aisle seat) and just act like he’s not there. But then you wake up from a quick doze, and he is impersonating a mating owl with his shirt off.

An emergency stop has to be made because his belligerent repertoire has become too disruptive and he is increasing the flight anxiety of the group. When you board a plane, out of consideration, you need to commit to the unit within the metal tube. You are all together, have you seen “Lost?” If this plane goes down you do not want to be stranded, drunk, half-naked, and thought of as a weak link.

I understand most people do not go so far with their drinking on flights, but where should the line be drawn? Is it the grandma in first class who keeps taking out her dentures and swabbing her gums with ointment that should be given coffee and told to contain herself? Or prior to flight, should a survey be passed out, “What type of drunk are you?” and those who only mark excited, helpful, or sleepy should be allowed to drink?

Yes, flying can be stressful, and while a glass of wine might be nice, boarding the plane already drunk and then consuming more is not only inconsiderate, but completely immature. It is both parties, the drunk and the airline, that are responsible for inappropriate exchanges on board. An airline should regulate who can and cannot board their flight, and an individual should be responsible for their own actions.

Would the use of breathalyzers go too far? If used under the discretion of a flight attendant I think it is perfectly fine to implement this as part of a checking system for passengers. Additionally, a limit of drinks passed out on board should most definitely be enforced. And for those who complain about this regulation, they can sit next to that hairy man I mentioned before. See if they want to reconsider after a six-hour flight with him.


Sophia Spann is a second-year biological sciences major. She can be reached at scspann@uci.edu.