Banning Alcohol on Flights Isn't the Way to Educate Brits About Our Dysfunctional Drinking

04/05/2016 08:23 | Updated 04 May 2016

Most of you might not remember, but in Snakes on a Plane, the plane actually ends up at its intended destination (admittedly with an emergency landing).

We are not quite so lucky when it comes to the IRL situation of boozy Brits on a plane. In fact in the last week, let alone year, three planes to Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga were disrupted because passengers got too drunk.

Snakes 1, People 0.

Unsurprisingly then, according to a survey on, 79% of people said they would welcome measures to curb alcohol intake on flights while 11% said they would be happy with a total ban.

But banning alcohol on a flight isn't the solution because the problem is in fact much, much bigger than our inability to say no to free drinks on a plane.

We Brits are known for being the drunkest ones in the room, at any table, in any country. Not only is this the general global perception of us as a nation, but we take pride in it.

In fact, the more batshit your story, the more of a legend you are.

Got on a train that went five hours in the wrong direction? Legend. Projectile vomited over your best friend's shoes? Legend.

Did all of the above and lost your wallet, phone and clothes? Christ, you need a badge that reads LEGEND.

The problem isn't that we drink. It's that our drinking habits are utterly dysfunctional.

We start developing this from a young age, when binge-drinking is considered to be the norm, especially in your uni days and most of your 20s. Most people I know in my 30s still have a very skewed idea of how much is too much.

Apparently three glasses of wine is fine in one sitting. It's not. That's nearly a bottle of wine and half the recommended units for a person per week. I'm not wagging the finger but I genuinely think most of us don't know what's an acceptable level to drink.

Drinking is inescapable in working life. Not only are you juggling your social (boozy) life with your mates but you're also expected to put in pub hours - unless you want your colleagues to think you are a total weirdo who sews name tags into their socks.

The majority of British society celebrates drunken behaviour as cheeky antics (which perpetuates it) and we act as if someone has punched our nan in the face when they say they aren't drinking that evening.

In fact when someone dies because they voluntarily did something dangerous like falling off a balcony or a building (and this happens frequently when people are drunk), it's called 'death by misadventure'. I couldn't think of a worse name to call something so serious.

There comes a point when we have to ask ourselves why on earth we keep doing this.

Why being hungover is completely normal on a weekly basis when it's actually a big klaxon from your body that you drank more than your liver could or should handle.

Personally, I think we'd be a lot better off if we were properly educated about drinking. Not some lecture about not drinking too much, or a nanny state decree that because a few people can't control themselves around booze on a plane, none of us can have it.

Because I know that when I have been taught about drinking and the impact on my body, it has affected (over a long period) how much I drink.

For instance memory loss is something we laugh about when it happens to us or a mate. In fact it happened to me a lot in my 20s and I thought it was a normal part of drinking.

But I'll never forget when someone told me that memory loss caused by alcohol is actually irreparable brain damage. I can't speak for others but I like my brain.

So what would have been useful?

I would much rather have had a chat about drinking in my school than being forced to attend an anti-drugs assembly with someone dressed up as a giant ecstasy pill. In fact, we could all do with this as adults.

A case in point is a friend of mine who attended a drink driving course and expected to have a dry lecture about what a scumbag he was and how he should stop drinking.

Instead, he said that they made you think about drinking but helping you to unpick how you developed those habits and what alcohol actually does to your body. "Why don't they tell you this stuff until it's too late?" he said.

Banning people from drinking isn't the answer. They tried that on public transport and I don't know about you, but I haven't seen a reduction in drunken bozos lurching around.

What we need is a more considered approach where we teach ourselves how to inject some common sense into our daily and weekly drinking habits. And we need to stop shaming people who choose not to drink on a night out. Because I don't know about you, but I'd like our nation to be known for more than merciless boozehounds who'd drink moonshine from a boot.