He was seated two seats ahead of me, on the last (and delayed) service between two major Australian cities. Soon after take off, it became clear he was drunk. He started off with what seemed to be funny banter, turned into mocking behaviour and then became full on racist and sexist abuse of cabin crew and neighbouring passengers. In all of the 1140 times I have flown, I have seen passengers whose behaviour was less than ideal but there has only been one flight where I have feared for my safety.
I have I have been wondering if the number of on unruly air passenger behaviour incidents have increased or we are hearing more about them?
This week, IATA (the International Air Transport Association) answered the question noting that incidents of people getting in fights, being verbally abusive or refusing to follow cabin crew orders increased 17 percent in 2015 over 2014.
There were 10,854 incidents of passengers disrupting flights on IATA’s 265 carriers last year. That is one incident for every 1,205 flights so the chances of being on a plane where this happens is still very low. This statistically matches my experience! Having been on a flight with a drunk almost out of control abusive passenger, it is not a pleasant feeling, however. IATA notes that previously the average was one incident in 1613 flights so there appears to be a trend.
The majority of cases were “verbal abuse but in 11 percent of cases, there was physical aggression or even damage to the aircraft.
In one-quarter of cases, alcohol and/or drug use was identified as a contributing factor. IATA note that in “the vast majority of instances these were consumed prior to boarding or from personal supply“.
40 percent of IATA member airlines diverted a flight over the year due to an unruly passenger.My question is why? Some thoughts:
- More people are able to fly than ever before
- Travel is stressful with cancelled flights, long security lines, narrow seats with little leg room
- People on holidays let their guards down and have a more “me focused” attitude
What do you think is causing the increase?
IATA are looking for governments to jointly agree to legal recompense for aircraft that are diverted because of poor behaviour.
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