AIR travel used to be regarded as the preserve of the glamorous and the well-heeled, a perception that was seized upon by advertisers who conjured up images of floating five star cocktail lounges in their promotional campaigns.

Anyone who has sat on a budget airline surrounded by boozed-up stag and hen parties will have felt that the golden age of air travel has long since passed.

Indeed Ryanair this week called for a crackdown on alcohol sales at British airports after claiming that airlines are being saddled with the consequences of passengers getting drunk before flights. Europe’s biggest short-haul airline has proposed a ban on early morning alcohol sales in bars and restaurants, and limiting the number of drinks sold per boarding pass.

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The call comes after a surge in alcohol-related trouble in the air, while a survey of cabin crew found most had witnessed drunken and disruptive behaviour on board.

Ryanair accused airports of profiting from allowing limitless drinking in terminals and leaving cabin crew to deal with the problem of badly drunken passengers.

The airline has a point, but Ryanair’s policy of continuing to sell booze onboard somewhat undermines the argument. Mind you, the prices it charges - £4 for a small can of lager and £5.50 for a small glass of wine - means you would have to be rather well off to get sozzled on one of its flights.

If airlines are serious about stamping out the problem of rowdy, tipsy passengers then they should start running dry flights in the same way that trains carrying some football supporters ban alcohol. However, the potential loss of income means none would dare to make this move.