Are People Really Booking Cheap European Flights Just to Drink at the Airport?
As countries deal with another shutdown, rumors have swirled that some folks are taking advantage of €9.99 fares to hit up airport bars that are still serving booze.
Ireland is currently under Level 5 of its 'Plan for Living with COVID-19,' which means that the Irish public has been asked to stay home, with a handful of exceptions for grocery shopping, individual outdoor exercise, or "vital family reasons." Bars, cafes, and restaurants are closed for everything except take-out orders or delivery. 'Wet pubs'—the ones that don't serve food—can offer take-out or delivery drinks, except in Dublin, where they're closed, period.
So the only place in Dublin where you can take a seat and order a pint of Guinness might be in the Dublin Airport, where restaurants are still serving food and alcohol. (The airport itself is considered an essential service, and is allowed to remain open.) But could someone who wanted a freshly poured pint really just... go to Terminal One?
A few days ago, the Angry Bartender Ireland shared a Facebook post suggesting that a group of cheeky lads had done that very thing. "When the pubs are closed and the only place serving is the airport so you book a £9.99 flight (that u have no intention of getting on) to go for beers with the lads, down there for dancing," the post read, and it was accompanied by a picture of three glasses of beer and a well-placed boarding pass.
A spokesperson for the airport confirmed that just because you could theoretically book a flight to nowhere, that didn't mean that it was an acceptable way to get a drink—or that it was actually happening. "The provision of food and beverage facilities in the airside area—i.e. after security—to the very small number of people who are travelling at present is part of that service. The operator of the outlet in question requires anyone purchasing alcohol to also purchase a substantial meal at a cost of €9," the spokesperson told the Irish Mirror.
"If, as is claimed, four individuals went through security with no intention to travel, but rather to avail of that food and beverage service, that would appear to be a breach of airport bylaws which state that 'a person may not engage in any activity which jeopardises or interferes with the orderly operation of an airport' [...] We have no evidence whatsoever that such activity is occurring, other than a single post on a specific Facebook page."
The airport also said that if those guys really went to the airport just for a couple of beers, it would've cost them €9.99 each for their unused airfare, and then they all would've had to order a €9 meal before they were allowed to have a pint. "Therefore, the group would have had to spend €75.96, plus the cost of travel to and from Dublin Airport, before they bought a single alcoholic beverage," the spokesperson continued.
But probably to the relief of several members of the Dublin Airport staff, the entire thing was just a Facebook joke—and not even an original one. Paul Strain is the Northern Ireland man who shared the picture of the beer and the boarding pass, tagging his friends and Belfast International Airport. It went viral even before The Angry Bartender slightly re-captioned it, and Strain told Belfast Live that he thinks he managed to prank "half of Northern Ireland."
"I've had hundreds of people who've asked if it was legit and I didn't know if I wanted to burst the bubble," he admitted to the outlet. "But no, it was just an absolute cracking spoof [...] If you look at my Facebook, it's all about having a few jokes and not taking life too seriously. So with this post we decided to add a bit of fun to the day—we didn't think it would get the response that it did. But here, it's definitely got us and a few hundred other people out there thinking maybe we should be checking Easyjet for cheap flights."
Or maybe buying a few cans and hanging around at home is an option too. At least you don't have to charge yourself an extra €9 before you pour your own pint.