People going on stag and hen dos are disrupting flights too often

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People going on stag and hen dos are disrupting flights too often


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NOTE to travellers headed to a stag do: the festivities begin at your destination, not on the plane that is taking you there. This might seem obvious, but many revellers appear unsure. Last week, an easyJet flight from Bristol to Prague was delayed and ultimately cancelled after a group of stags got their celebration off to an early start. The details of their behaviour remain murky, but it led Bristol Airport police to tweet: 

Disappointing behaviour of a few who ruined a Friday flight from Bristol Airport, not just for their mates, but for the 140+ whose flight was cancelled as a result of their follow-up actions. It’s an aircraft—not a nightclub.

The airline clarified that the flight was delayed “due to a group of passengers behaving disruptively on board,” and after the delay, adverse weather conditions set in that forced easyJet to cancel the flight. A spokesman said, “Whilst such incidents are rare, we take them very seriously, do not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour on board and always push for prosecution.”

But are they really so rare? It would seem not. Last year, more than 20 people headed to a stag do in Prague—the city appears to have a certain draw for these occasions—were thrown off a plane in Manchester after their disruptive behaviour forced it to return to its parking bay. A few months later, drunken members of a group heading from Liverpool to Alicante for a hen do were kicked off a Ryanair flight, to the cheers of annoyed passengers. This March, five British men bound for a bachelor party in Las Vegas—America’s equivalent of Prague, and then some—were removed from a Thomas Cook flight from Manchester, which had been diverted to Winnipeg. The list goes on.

Those latter men complained that they were treated unfairly and that the fuss surrounding their removal was unwarranted because missing their Vegas party was “punishment enough”. Nathan Rees, the groom-to-be on last week’s easyJet flight, took it even further, arguing that the flight crew should be “sacked” for “destroying” his party and threatening legal action.

That is a bit much. Compare this to other high-profile incidents in which people were removed from flights: David Dao was bloodied and dragged off a United flight for refusing to give up his seat to staff, and Queen Obioma and her children were removed by United after a fellow passenger complained about the way she smelled—a complaint she said was racially motivated. Some flyers like these appear to have legitimate grievances against the airlines that kicked them off. For drunken partiers to put themselves in the same category is distasteful.

Are these stag- and hen-do incidents on the rise in the skies? Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, says that the number has remained remarkably flat in the last few years. Once again, it could be a case of social media amplifying the perception of a growing trend. If you behaved like an idiot on a flight 20 or 10 or even five years ago, you might have got kicked off, but you probably would not have gained overnight infamy. Indeed, Gulliver has been on plenty of planes, trains and buses with inebriated party-goers who did not generate any headlines. The difference now may not be the behaviour, but the publicity.

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