IATA Seeks Collaboration As Unruly Pax Incidents Rise

Open Jaw

Unruly passenger incidents are happening more frequently.

IATA has released figures showing that reports of unruly passenger incidents onboard aircraft increased to 10,854 in 2015, up from 9,316 the year before. This equates to 1 incident for every 1,205 flights.

The majority involved verbal abuse, failure to follow lawful crew instructions and other forms of anti-social behaviour.

A significant proportion (11%) of reports indicated physical aggression towards pax or crew or damage to the aircraft. Alcohol or drug intoxication was identified as a factor in 23% of cases, though IATA says that in the vast majority of instances these were consumed prior to boarding or from personal supply without knowledge of the crew.

"Unruly and disruptive behaviour is simply not acceptable. The anti-social behaviour of a tiny minority of customers can have unpleasant consequences for the safety and comfort of all on board,” says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General & CEO.

“The increase in reported incidents tells us that more effective deterrents are needed. Airlines and airports are guided by core principles developed in 2014 to help prevent and manage such incidents. Be we cannot do it alone. That’s why we are encouraging more governments to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014," de Juniac added.

The Tokyo Convention was modernized with the Montreal Protocol 2014, closing gaps in the international legal framework dealing with unruly passengers. To date, 6 countries have ratified the Protocol. "More are needed in order to have a consistent global approach to this issue," said de Juniac.

In some countries there has been a focus on the role of alcohol as a trigger for disruptive behavior. Airlines already have strong guidelines and crew training on the responsible provision of alcohol. IATA is supporting initiatives, such as the code of practice pioneered in the U.K., which includes a focus on prevention of intoxication and excessive drinking prior to boarding.

Evidence from an initiative by Monarch Airlines at LGW has shown instances of disruptive behavior can be cut 50% with this pro-active approach before pax board. The industry believes that adopting this cooperative voluntary approach is preferable to heavy-handed regulation and licensing.

"There is no easy answer to stem the rise in reported unruly behaviour. We need a balanced solution in which all stakeholders can collaborate. The industry’s core principles can help to manage the small percentage of passengers who abuse alcohol. And it must be balanced with efforts by governments taking advantage of all their deterrence mechanisms, including those provided through the Montreal Protocol 14," said de Juniac.

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