Reports of disruptive, violent and drunken behaviour during flights has quadrupled over the past five years - and could reach record highs this year, the CAA has warned.
According to new CAA data, the number of incidents involving disruptive passengers, as reported by UK airlines, has increased year-on-year from 98 in 2013 to 417 last year.
And in 2018 to date, before the busy summer getaway has even got under way, there has already been 202. The CAA said many incidents involved “acts of violent and intimidating behaviour”.
It has now has called for immediate and far-reaching government action to crack down on violent and drunken airline passengers, putting fellow passengers and cabin crew at risk.
In February, a stag party was kicked off a Bratislava-bound Ryanair flight when their unruly behaviour forced the pilot to divert to Berlin en route.
Then in June, Jet2.com had to divert an Birmingham-Ibiza flight to Toulouse due to another rowdy stag party behaving in an "appalling and aggressive" manner.
While the majority of passengers enjoy trouble-free flying, the CAA wants airlines and enforcement agencies to make better use of existing laws to encourage the industry and the government to bring more prosecutions.
Offenders can be jailed for up to five years for endangering the safety of an aircraft and can also be charged with specific offences of being drunk on board an aircraft or acting in a disruptive manner.
Other offences include smoking and failing to obey the commands of the captain, again, punishable by fines or imprisonment.
Richard Stephenson, CAA director, said: “Everyone wants their holiday flights to be enjoyable and trouble-free. Drunken and abusive behaviour on an aeroplane is totally unacceptable.
“Not only does it upset everyone else, but it can also jeopardise flight safety. Criminal charges should be brought against offenders more often to act as a deterrent.
“Passengers need to know they will face the full weight of the law should they be found guilty of disorderly behaviour.”