#Trainwine and “barmaids in the sky”: why are alcohol and travel so tied up in each other?

Andrew Misell | July 2018 | 6 minutes

Quick quiz… When did you last have an airport beer? Or are you more of a train wine drinker?

There’s something about not being at home or at work that feels like permission to drink. It might be that we’re off on holiday. Or maybe we’re knackered after a long day (or long week) at work, and heading home with a tipple we consider to be our well-deserved reward.

It’s all very relaxing, except when it isn’t. In 2017, a BBC investigation found that 387 people had been arrested at the UK’s airports in the previous 12 months for causing trouble whilst drunk. Ally Murphy, a former cabin crew manager with Virgin Atlantic, complained that passengers saw her and her colleagues as “just barmaids in the sky.”

Back down on Earth, train operators have responded to anti-social behaviour by banning alcohol on some routes or at some times of day. On the roads in 2015 (the most recent year for which we have numbers) there were 5,740 accidents and 180 deaths as a result of someone being under the influence.

Clearly, most on-board drinking doesn’t end so badly. But these problems don’t just pop out of nowhere. Alcohol consumption and its associated harms occur on a spectrum. A boozy atmosphere provides a context for boozy bother. After one or two glasses of #trainwine or #airportbeer, you might just be a bit tedious to listen to. After three of four you might be berating staff about seat allocations, overcrowding or delays. After that, who knows? As in so many situations, there’s a balance to be struck between anyone’s freedom to enjoy alcohol, and everyone else’s right not to have to deal with the consequences.

That balance is exactly what we’ll be searching for at our annual conference on 19 September 2018, at the Coldra Court Hotel in Newport. There, you’ll have a chance to hear from experts in the field, including:

And you’ll have plenty of chances to tell us, and everyone else, what you think too.