IATA reveals ‘alarming increase’ in abusive passengers

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By Lisa James
Home » IATA reveals ‘alarming increase’ in abusive passengers

The number of unruly airline passengers is on the increase, with one incident reported for every 568 flights, new statistics reveal.

And, while incidents of physical abuse remain very rare, there has been an ‘alarming increase’ in these occasions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which compiled the research.

Latest figures show that there was one unruly incident reported for every 568 flights in 2022, up from one per 835 flights in 2021.

Most involved non-compliance, verbal abuse and intoxication, but physical abuse incidents were up 61% over 2021, occurring once every 17,200 flights.

The most common offences were smoking of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vapes; failure to fasten seatbelts when instructed, exceeding carry-on baggage allowance or failing to store baggage when required and consumption of own alcohol on board.

IATA Deputy Director General Conrad Clifford said: “The increasing trend of unruly passenger incidents is worrying.

“Passengers and crew are entitled to a safe and hassle-free experience on board. For that, passengers must comply with crew instructions.

“While our professional crews are well trained to manage unruly passenger scenarios, it is unacceptable that rules in place for everyone’s safety are disobeyed by a small but persistent minority of passengers. There is no excuse for not following the instructions of the crew.

“For the sake of the majority, we make no apology for seeking to crack down on the bad behaviour of a tiny number of travellers who can make a flight very uncomfortable for everyone else.”

IATA wants to see a zero-tolerance approach to unruly behaviour, by ensuring governments ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14), which gives them the necessary legal authority to prosecute unruly passengers, regardless of their state of origin and to have a range of enforcement measures that reflect the severity of the incident.

It also wants industry partners to share best practice, including training for crew to de-escalate incidents when they occur.

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