By Joe Harker
The airport can often be a drab and dreary place. While Brits have a reputation for a love of queuing the amount of it we have to do in airports somewhat dampens our enthusiasm for the whole activity. It's really just a series of holding pens connected by queues and several hours of waiting time.
There are ways to pass the time. Some people will read, others will go into a series of shops and pretend to buy things, but one of the most popular ways of waiting until you're corralled into the next sweaty holding pen is having a pint in the airport pub.
There's something exciting about having a pint in the morning before a holiday, it's like staying up well past your bedtime when you were a child. You know you shouldn't be doing this thing at this time of day, but you are. How exciting!
It's the great leveller in society. From stag dos and hen parties starting the holiday early to businesspeople wanting a glass of something before the flight, all sorts enjoy an early morning drink in the airport. It's a strange but highly common ritual not repeated in pubs across the country. Most places with a licence to sell alcohol in the UK can't do so before 10am, but airport pubs and restaurants get let off the hook.
However, the government may be about to rain on the parade of many who enjoy a pint before a flight as they're taking another look at licensing laws and could ban all day drinking at airports. New plans could force airport establishments to stick to the 10am rules like everyone else as there has been an increase in drunken behavior and arrests as a result.
The Civil Aviation Authority reports that there were over 400 cases of "serious disruption" on flights in 2016 and 2017, a huge increase in the figure of 195 incidents in 2015. Over the past couple of years serious incidents that have required police intervention have more than doubled and passengers getting drunk at the airport are being blamed for the disturbances.
The Home Office is investigating what effect the ban would have on airports and is considering a range of measures to reduce disruption. In addition to cutting down on early morning drinking a ban on selling bottles of spirits has also been considered.
Writing in The Guardian, Tom Usher says he enjoys a morning pint in airports as much as anyone but would back the government if they decided to limit the times when alcohol could be sold. He suggests it would be a "nanny state" measure, but believes any outrage over it would be short lived and mostly feigned. Would it really be that bad if the option to drink during the morning was no longer on the table?