Background. This investigation was designed to identify individual and contextual factors associated with airline passengers' alcohol use, and to explore potentially dangerous in-flight alcohol consumption.
Methods. Passengers waiting to board 24 domestic flights at an international airport in the South Atlantic United States were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire. Eighty percent of those approached agreed to participate. Our findings are based upon the responses of 1,548 adults.
Results. A majority (84%) of passengers indicated that they did not intend to consume alcoholic beverages on the plane they were waiting to board. Passengers who were more likely to report that they would drink were on longer flights, traveling with friends, and anticipating First or Business Class seating. Passengers who had already consumed alcohol that day and those who drank more often generally were also more likely to say that they intended to consume alcohol, as were people who thought that in-flight alcohol use was enjoyable, acceptable, and unlikely to make jet lag worse. Eighty-nine percent of the passengers who said they intended to drink reported that they would purchase one to two drinks.
Conclusions. Very few respondents reported intentions that would pose a risk to others. Future studies should validate alcohol consumption and sample passengers at multiple airports throughout the year.