The concept of a drink limit on flights is polarizing. Some passengers believe they have a right to imbibe and unwind after a long day or to take a drink to calm nerves and reduce the fear of flying; others have suffered through bad experiences seated next to over-served row-mates.
But is a drink limit necessary? A strong case can be made for each side. Here’s a look at the case for drink limits on planes as well as the case for no drink limit, plus a look at the unique ways in-flight cocktails affect the body at high altitudes.
The Case AGAINST In-Flight Drink Limits
“We’re all adults, aren’t we?” That was the thought of one frequent traveler quoted in a recent Condé Nast Traveler piece on drink Many fliers seem to think that anyone old enough to fly unaccompanied is also old enough to know when to say “when.”
Others cited the ability to unwind and relax on a flight as just about the best part of the traveling experience. And, for many, having an in-flight cocktail or glass of wine is a key step toward truly relaxing.
There are also frequent fliers who see in-flight drinking as one of the last vestiges of air travel’s glory days. “Let us hold on to what little glamour there is left in air travel,” one respondent said.
Some in favor of unregulated in-flight drinking focus on the fundamental fairness issue. That is, not all passengers respond in the same fashion to having the same number of drinks. A 150-pound traveler kicking back whiskey on an empty stomach is going to feel the effects of alcohol much more pointedly than a 250-pound passenger enjoying a couple of glasses of wine after a big meal.
The Case FOR In-Flight Drink Limits
While we may all be adults, we don’t all act like it when under the influence. In fact, a BBC investigation found a 50% jump in alcohol-related arrests between early 2016 and early 2017, suggesting that the problem is becoming worse.
A Hawaiian Airlines passenger must repay nearly $100,000 to the carrier after his drunken behavior forced a flight to New York to turn back to its origin city of Honolulu. And Ryanair, the low-cost Irish airline, is seeking a two-drink limit on flights and a ban on alcohol sold in airports before 10 a.m.
But there’s another, more compelling reason why a limit on in-flight cocktails and other drinks is a good idea. It has nothing to do with arrests or drunken behavior, but rather with how the human body responds to alcohol at high altitudes.
First, airplane cabins have far less oxygen in them than humans are used to getting at ground level. Because of this, alcohol metabolizes faster and can amplify the effects of altitude sickness. This lack of oxygen also dehydrates your body, which means you should be drinking a lot more water and a lot less alcohol.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why too much drinking on a flight is a bad idea. Window passengers may bother their row-mates by getting up to go to the bathroom frequently. Belligerent passengers can be an annoyance to all, loud-talking and carrying on, even if their behavior doesn’t warrant an arrest. And then there’s always the possibility of experiencing a hangover upon arrival at your destination city, which is no fun.
Enjoy the Best Possible Travel Experience
As of now, there is no serious effort underway in the United States to limit drinking on planes. So, for the foreseeable future, you can choose to relax and unwind with a drink if it suits you, or you can choose to pass and enjoy yourself in other ways.
But, drinks or no drinks, you deserve to enjoy the best possible experience when traveling for work. At JTB Business Travel, we are the comprehensive corporate travel agency that helps save companies money while supporting travelers and helping to accommodate outstanding travel experiences. Behind everything we do is a common sense approach to business travel.
Contact us today to learn more about our services as a corporate travel agency.