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Report: Air Carriers Are Restraining More Unruly Passengers

Dorathy Gass

No one likes having an unruly drunken flyer aboard their plane when traveling, and the good news is that overall reports of these types of passengers have decreased slightly in 2016.
The bad news?

Well, the number of reported cases of incidents where these flyers showed obscene behavior or got physically abusive increased via airlines worldwide. There’s also been an increase in unruly flyers that needed to be restrained.

In 2016, airlines reported just over 9,800 incidents involving unruly flyers. This as per a report that stems from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). There is a slight drop from the 2015 report that saw just over 10,800, yet the IATA thinks airlines may have under-reported or underestimated the issue.

IATA states that the 2016 figures show a concerning jump (11 percent in 3015 and 12 percent in 2016), where instances escalated from verbal (level 1), to incidents that had obscene or physically abusive behavior, verbal threats of physical harm, or use of safety or emergency equipment (level 2).

In 2016, 169 cases were reported where unruly passengers required restraint, which is an increase from 2015’s number of 113.

As IATA’s Assistant Director of External Affairs, Tim Colehan states, airline staff often handle level 1 cases with strategies taught in training. However, he went on to note that in 2016, airlines saw an increase of cases where these techniques were exhausted, and crew had no other options but to restrain these unruly flyers to ensure the safety of all on the plane.

When looking closer at the figures, the IATA noticed the numbers around unruly flyers were linked to those who were either on drugs or drunk, which was listed as the top issue around a passenger’s unruliness.

Flyers who refused to adhere to safety rules (i.e. no smoking on the plane, turning off electronics, complying to seat belt signs, etc.) was listed as the second-cited problem when dealing with unruly flyers. Fights with other passengers hit third.

Sadly, when passengers are involved with unruly behavior aboard a plane, no charges are laid when they land. This is due to the fact that under international laws, jurisdiction lies on the authorities within the nation where the aircraft is registered under. If an aircraft leaves one country and lands in another, officials are powerless to exhibit any authority.

USA Today reported that IATA is hoping to rectify this by getting countries on board to sign what they dub the Montreal Protocol 2014. This would give legal jurisdiction over unruly passengers to the country where the flyer lands. Only 12 countries have adapted to this and 22 must be on board to place the rules into action.