Schoolies caught misbehaving at airports could be looking at a flight ban or even face a recorded conviction, Australian Federal Police warn.
With thousands of school leavers flying to and from their end-of-year celebration destinations, AFP Airport Police Commander Josh Kinghorn reaffirmed that travellers acting inappropriately would be heavily penalised.
Those caught displaying offensive or disorderly behaviour on an aircraft could be forced to pay a maximum $9000 fine.
Speaking at Gold Coast airport as the first week of Schoolies nears its end, Commander Kinghorn said school leavers would be heading home if they couldn’t behave themselves.
“We don’t want to be the party police, but the AFP will make arrests if passengers are intoxicated or causing a disturbance,” he said on Thursday.
“We understand school leavers want to celebrate the end of their exams, but passengers and airport staff deserve to feel safe during their flight.
“If offensive or abusive behaviour occurs mid-flight, the AFP will be waiting at the terminal to arrest and escort offenders off the plane.”
Commander Kinghorn said police would be monitoring behaviour but also encouraged members of the public to report offensive passengers.
Videos posted on social media emerged this week highlighting school leavers’ disgraceful behaviour on the first weekend of Schoolies, including a mess on a plane and rubbish lining the entertainment strip at Surfers Paradise.
Virgin Australia flight attendant Ashlee Rogers filmed the inside of a plane after a trip to the Gold Coast, revealing a huge pile of crushed chips left behind underneath one seat.
The video, which was posted to TikTok, appeared to show the entire contents of the bag had been emptied out across the carpet floor.
“We have witnessed incidents of disorderly or offensive conduct on social media. The AFP haven’t had any incidents reported specifically to us at Gold Coast Airport but from what we’ve seen on social media that could amount to disorderly conduct,” Commander Kinghorn said.
Commander Kinghorn said police would take a “zero tolerance approach” to any “offensive and disorderly conduct”.
“If we come across those sorts of behaviours and members of the public report those sorts of behaviours to us, we will arrest people engaged in that sort of behaviour, they will be escorted from the aircraft,” he said.
“We’re most concerned about intoxicated people travelling and behaving in a disorderly fashion and in an offensive fashion because what we want is people and families on the aircraft to be safe.”
Commander Kinghorn said schoolies travelling from NSW, with the majority being 18 years old upon graduating, should be aware of their behaviour while travelling.
“You’re going to be 18 years old, you will to be treated as an adult,” he said on Tuesday.
“We don’t want you starting your adult life going through and being arrested and then having to find a job later in life.”
Commander Kinghorn said those people caught misbehaving could face “fairly hefty monetary fines” or even “suspended sentences for repetitive behaviours”.
If a person is found to be interfering with crew or aircraft, they could face two years’ imprisonment.
Unlawful behaviour includes offences relating to intoxication, public disturbance, smoking in non-permitted areas, carrying prohibited items and incidents relating to assault.
Passengers can expect to see an increased police presence at all major airports across the country, with drug detection dogs patrolling the terminals.
If caught with illicit drugs, school leavers could face drug possession charges and up to two years’ imprisonment.
The AFP has recorded 50 incidents relating to intoxication and 10 incidents relating to assault at Gold Coast airport since 2021.