The Civil Aviation Authority is urging airlines and enforcement agencies to “make better use of laws already in place” to tackle disruptive passengers.

With 4.5 million passengers set to fly out of the UK during the festive period, the statutory body is also warning travellers about the consequences of disruptive behaviour on planes.

More than 326 incidents of disruptive passenger behaviour were reported in the first 10 months of this year, most of which were alcohol-related and frequently involved abusive and sometimes violent behaviour.

The figures are similar to 2016 and 2017, which saw more than 400 incidents reported for each full year.

The CAA said it will work closely with the industry and government to bring prosecutions against disruptive passengers.

Richard Stephenson, CAA director, said: “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 legal consequences of disorderly behaviour.”

Offenders can be jailed for up to five years for endangering the safety of an aircraft.

They can also be charged with specific offences of being drunk on board an aircraft and for acting in a disruptive manner. Smoking and failing to obey the commands of the captain are also against the law and can be punished by a fine or imprisonment.