In 2017, there was 1 unruly passenger incident for every 1,053 flights. Between 2007 and 2017 there were over 66,000 incidents reported to IATA (pdf).
There is growing concern from airlines, governments and passengers at the increasing frequency and severity of these incidents that involve violence against crew and other passengers, harassment and failure to follow safety instructions.
Committed by a tiny minority of passengers, unruly incidents have a disproportionate impact, threatening safety, disrupting other passengers and crew and causing delays and diversions. However, due to loopholes in existing laws, such offenses often remain unpunished.
How IATA is addressing the issue of unruly passengers
At the 70th IATA AGM in June 2014, the industry unanimously adopted a set of core principles for dealing with the issue of unruly passenger behavior. This sets out a strategy based on:
- Enhancing the international legal deterrent and promoting a wider range of penalties to encourage enforcement action.
- Working with airlines and other stakeholders to prevent unruly and disruptive passenger incidents.
IATA is urging governments to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14), to ensure that they have the necessary legal tools to be able to prosecute the small minority of passengers that become unruly. In addition, we are advocating for the wider use of civil and administrative penalties so that unruly passengers can be held to account for their misbehavior.
To assist member airlines in prevention and management of incidents, IATA has developed extensive guidance and training, for example in de-escalation techniques and the responsible service of alcohol during flights.
IATA is also working with airports, duty-free retailers and other groups to ensure the responsible sales and marketing of alcohol to avoid unruly passenger incidents resulting from intoxication. In addition, IATA is participating in public awareness campaigns that encourage responsible consumption of alcohol before traveling by air such as the Fly Safely, Drink Responsibly in Norway and the in the UK, IATA is also working with partners to highlight the types of prohibited conduct onboard flights and is supporting the campaign launched by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).