Duty free shops at UK airports to sell alcohol in sealed bags

A chain of duty-free shops has started selling alcohol in sealed bags to prevent passengers drinking onboard following numerous high profile cases of travellers becoming violent on flights.

World Duty Free, which operates 22 stores in airports across the UK, took the decision to seal all bottles regardless of size at the end of last year.

Bags are strong enough that passengers would need to use scissors or a knife – items that are banned in hand luggage – to open them.

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The bags also have a label on them stating: “Do not open alcohol purchases until your final destination”.

A World Duty Free spokesperson told The Times that, while serious incidents involving drunk passengers weren’t common, when they do happen “the impact can be serious for fellow passengers, employees working in the air and at the airport”.

“The industry is working together to tackle this problem and make disruptive behaviour such as this socially unacceptable.

“The vast majority of our customers understand that the alcohol we sell can only be consumed when they reach their destination, and this message is already clearly conveyed at tills, on receipts and on bags.”

The trade body Airlines UK has called for sealed bags to be made compulsory for all booze sold in airports and for miniature bottles to be banned too.

Airlines including Ryanair have long been calling for stricter rules about how much alcohol can be consumed at airports, while the government launched a call for evidence last year to moot the idea of introducing licensing laws at airports.

High profile incidents involving drunk passengers causing disruption on flights have increased over the last few years.

Just this weekend, a pair of Ryanair passengers were detained by police after brawling onboard a UK flight to Tenerife.

Ben Wardrop, who filmed the incident, said it started as a row about a woman not wearing shoes on the 6.30am flight from Glasgow.

“A very drunk man pulled her up about it, saying that someone would stand on her toes, then the woman’s boyfriend stepped in and tried to defuse the situation.” Mr Wardrop said. 

“Once the plane landed and more alcohol was consumed the man and the woman’s boyfriend started arguing, both being very drunk they started to fight, and the man in the video with lots of blood was trying to get the man to calm down and he got hit on the nose.”

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