Figures obtained by BBC’s Panorama programme show that there were 387 arrests in the year to February 2017, up from 255 in the period from February 2015 to 2016.
The figures were from responses from 18 out of 20 police forces with a major UK airport on their patch who were contacted by the programme.
Ally Murphy, a former Virgin Airlines cabin crew manager, told Panorama: ‘People just see us as barmaids in the sky.
‘I was pulled into an upper-class bed by a passenger who was feeling particularly lucky I guess.
‘They would touch your breasts, or they’d touch your bum or your legs, or I mean I’ve had hands going up my skirt before.
‘It’s rage inducing, and you shouldn’t have to deal with that.
‘I guess I never reported it to the police because sadly, and this is completely wrong and only really occurring to me now, you kind of just accept it as part of the job. And it shouldn’t be.’
Another cabin crew member, who was unnamed in the programme, said airline workers had found ‘countless’ litre bottles of vodka and they felt that Alicante, Ibiza, Palma were among the worst routes.
Alexandra Wilms, of the Balearic Ministry of Tourism, called for ‘high fines’ to try and deal with the problem as ‘these kinds of people don’t understand any other thing than really getting punished by paying a lot of money’.
Airport Operators’ Association chief executive Karen Dee rejected suggestions airports are irresponsibly selling alcohol.
‘The sale of alcohol per se is not a problem. It’s the misuse of it and drinking to excess and then behaving badly,’ she said.
Panorama also pointed out that the UK aviation industry brought in a voluntary code a year ago.
It recommends that airports and airlines should work together to limit disruptive behaviour and sell alcohol responsibly.
Most of the big airlines and airports have signed up to this.
(Main picture: PA)