High-profile blitz on airport violence

Fly-on-the-wall TV shows featuring outraged airline passengers have sparked an upsurge in abusive customers at Norwich International, it was claimed last night.

Fly-on-the-wall TV shows featuring outraged airline passengers have sparked an upsurge in abusive customers at Norwich International, it was claimed last night.

Shows such as BBC's Airport have been held partly to blame for more people flying off the handle because footage of volatile confrontations on screen are misconstrued as the normal way to settle disputes and problems.

Frontline staff who have witnessed death threats and been on the receiving end of drunken abuse spoke out as the airport teamed up with police to launch a zero-tolerance crackdown on violent and aggressive behaviour. Colourful posters around the terminal warn passengers that they could be prevented from travelling that day, banned from future flights and prosecuted.

Managing director Richard Jenner said he hoped the high-profile crackdown would make people stop and think before they acted out of turn.

“It's become evident over a period of time that we are dealing with more incidents of passengers being abusive or rude to our staff and indeed sometimes threatening them,” he said.

“People see programmes like Airport and see a lot of examples because it makes good TV and they think that it's the way to behave.”

Most Read

Jon Dewing, operations duty manager, said incidents happened on a regular basis - particularly if a flight was held up.

“I've heard a man threatening to find out where a member of staff lived, and that he was going to kill her.

“Sometimes it can be the people you would least expect, such as businessmen who bang on the check-in desk and bully the young woman dealing with them until she cries. I step in and ask if they would like someone to speak to their daughter like that, and it normally calms them down,” he said.

He also said he had seen a change since Airport, a prime-time programme which was set at Heathrow and ran for about 10 years from the mid-90s. “They've seen so many people getting angry during half an hour of edited highlights from a week or more at the airport and think it's the norm if you want to get your way.”

Chief Insp Kevin Clarke said all airports had reported an increase in incidents, and although it had not been a dramatic rise police and airports had decided to tackle it.

A 57-year-old man from Scotland who was drunk and abusive to staff at the Norwich check-in earlier this year was this week fined £300 and ordered to pay £75 in court costs.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter