During a recent flight between Newark and Minneapolis at Delta Air Lines, a passenger sitting near Stephanie Wolkin emptied five mini-bottles of vodka in quick succession. By the time the plane landed, the drunk passenger had fallen seriously ill and Wolkin, a retired unionist from St. Paul, Minnesota, had traveled 10,000 miles the hard way.

According to a new survey conducted by Fractl, a marketing agency in Delray Beach, Florida, the majority of passengers drink when they steal, more than 8 out of 10 passengers report having consumed alcohol while driving. they were waiting at the airport, and this number rose to more than 90 percent once in the air. According to the survey, millennials are 10% more likely to be intoxicated by a theft than older passengers.

Alcohol has fueled some of the most horrific incidents in flight in recent years, including violent clashes, bloody fights and sexual assaults. This summer, cheap Irish airline Ryanair has publicly called for restrictions on the sale of alcohol at airports and a ban on the sale of alcohol before 10 am.

Few people talk about alcohol in planes beyond the physiological effects of consuming a few beers in a pressurized aluminum tube. How much should you drink on board? What should you do when someone next to you is drinking excessively? And have we reached a point where we should limit – or ban – alcoholic beverages on board?

Brian Cassmassi, a psychiatrist in Los Angeles, remembers a robbery in Europe to red-eye shortly after obtaining his doctorate in medicine. About half way, the flight attendants asked if there was a doctor on board. "A female passenger was intoxicated for drinking two small bottles of alcohol and taking her Ambien," recalls Cassmassi. "She's been combative towards the flight attendants and other passengers sitting next to her." I helped her master and calm her in the kitchen until she we have an emergency landing. "

Cassmassi thinks that one or two mini-bottles on a flight are generally acceptable, but it depends on the passenger. Flight crews must carefully monitor their behavior to ensure they do not overdo it, he says. While blood alcohol concentration remains the same during flights as on land, people may feel the effects more easily due to a slight decrease in the oxygen level in the blood , according to Cassmassi.

"The planes keep the pressure in the lower cabin about 4% at normal sea level pressure, which slightly reduces the oxygen supply," he says. "With this little oxygen in the fuel, the brain is more sensitive to the effects of certain substances like alcohol, and so people can feel more buzzed earlier with a drink."

In flight, you feel the effects of alcohol more easily because of the decrease in oxygen level. Photo / Getty Images In flight, you feel the effects of alcohol more easily because of the decrease in oxygen level. Photo / Getty Images

Among the airlines, the availability of alcohol goes from a total ban to free drinks. Middle Eastern carriers such as Royal Brunei Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and EgyptAir fly without alcohol. Other airlines do not serve adult drinks on domestic flights (Turkish Airlines and many Chinese airlines, for example). A majority of airlines still serve alcohol, but can charge you, except in business class and first class, where drinks are always included in the price of your ticket.

Flight attendants receive training on alcohol using the traffic light system used by bars and restaurants to rank customers: green for social drinkers conforming to social norms, yellow for lower inhibitions and inappropriate behavior, and red for impaired motor functions. When the passengers turn yellow, they cut them. But when drinks start flowing at 36,000 feet, flight attendants are outnumbered and it is the responsibility of passengers to ensure that other passengers are not too resource hungry. This is especially true when passengers start drinking before the flight or bring their own alcoholic beverage.

"Modern manners dictate that before getting into the air bag, you have to consider all the other passengers next to you because they have fewer options than you," said Sharon Schweitzer, an expert in etiquette who runs the consulting firm Access to Culture.

But what if your fellow traveler does not see it this way? I remember sitting next to a young woman on a Southwest Airlines flight recently. Every time the flight attendant approached the edge of screaming, she ordered a white wine and drained it several times. Twice in the conversation, she began to exhibit all kinds of yellow light behaviors.

Almost when I thought, "What am I going to do now?" a stern – faced flight attendant has materialized next to me. The passenger instinctively tipped her plastic cup towards her, but the crew member shook her head slowly.

"I'm sorry," said the guardian in a tone not sorry. "We can not serve you anymore."

The woman fell asleep on my shoulder.

Flight attendants can interrupt you if they think you have drunk too much. Photo / Getty Images Flight attendants can interrupt you if they think you have drunk too much. Photo / Getty Images

I could have handled this situation differently, say the experts. The steps to defuse alcohol-related disagreements in aircraft are the same as those for defusing any conflict. First, ask the passenger to slow down his consumption of alcohol. You can allude to this by saying, "Can I get you a drink of water? I hear that alcohol dehydrates you in an airplane." (That's true, but it's also a better way to tackle the topic of excessive alcohol consumption than to say, "You're drinking too much!") If that does not work , ask a flight attendant if you can sit elsewhere. (Not an option for me because it was a complete flight.)

Finally, discuss privately with a crewmember about the passenger's behavior. At the very least, they can cut off the drunk passenger, which will make the rest of the flight a bit more bearable.

And if you find yourself in a situation similar to that of Wolkin? You can do this, which is why you should bring extra clothes and a pack of wipes for your next flight. Even if you do not have a baby.

With Spring Break announced, it may be a good time for US carriers to consider following their Middle Eastern competitors by limiting or eliminating alcohol served on board. . This would significantly reduce the number of confrontations in flight and make the flight safer for all. Do not laugh For decades, the idea of ​​a smoke-free flight was unthinkable. Now, no one can imagine that someone is lighting up on board.