Drunken arrests on flights surge as airline staff tell of sexual harassment by passengers

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A former cabin crew manager has told how she was repeatedly sexually harassed by drunken passengers on board flights to and from the UK.

Ally Murphy, who worked for Virgin for 14 years before she resigned, said some passengers “just see us as barmaids in the sky.”

She said drunken customers had put their hands up her skirt, grabbed her breasts and on one occasion someone pulled her into a first-class bed on board.

The former flight attendant’s comments came as a BBC Panorama investigation revealed a surge in arrests for drunken behaviour on flights or at airports.

Ms Murphy told the programme, which aired on Monday: “People just see us as barmaids in the sky. 

“I was pulled into an upper-class bed by a passenger who was feeling particularly lucky I guess. 

“They would touch your breasts, or they’d touch your bum or your legs, or I mean I’ve had hands going up my skirt before. 

“It’s rage inducing, and you shouldn’t have to deal with that.”

The number of incidents involving drunken passengers “played a key part” in her decision to leave her job at the airline, according to Panorama.

The BBC investigation revealed that the number of passengers arrested for drunken behaviour has risen by 50 per cent in one year.

It came as Ryanair called for a two-drink limit per boarding pass and a complete ban on alcohol sales before 10am. 

An unnamed cabin crew member told the show they had witnessed colleagues being punched, kicked and “one of them was head butted by a passenger.”

Another said they were cornered by someone trying to kiss them “and making sexual moves one me” before pushing them away.

They added: “It can go from anything from banter to sexual assault really.”

Baroness Hayter, the Labour peer and founder of Alcohol Concern, said airports work to make sure passengers spend money on alcohol while they are there.

She said: “The way airports now work and the way they make their money is basically expecting passengers to spend a lot of money when they’re there and the biggest thing that happens as you go is alcohol.

 “They’re selling it in front of children, they’re selling it around licensing hours, they’re selling it without asking how much people have already drunk. They’re making it very very readily available.”

There was a total of 387 arrests in the year to February 2017, up from 255 in the period from February 2015 to 2016, according to the data.

Another cabin crew member, who was unnamed in the programme, said airline workers had found “countless” litre bottles of vodka and they felt that Alicante, Ibiza and Palma were among the worst routes.


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