Unruly Airline Passenger Incidents Trending Up

Unruly Airline Passenger Incidents Trending Up

by Donald Wood
Last updated: 10:35 AM ET, Mon June 12, 2023

New data showed that the number of reported unruly passenger
incidents increased in 2022 compared to the previous year.

According to analysis from the International Air Transport
Association (IATA), there was an average of one unruly passenger incident per 568
flights last year, an increase from the one-per-835 flights reported in 2021.

Data showed that unruly passenger incidents fell into three
major categories, non-compliance, verbal abuse and intoxication. Non-compliance
violations declined when mask mandates were lifted, but reported incidents grew
37 percent by the end of 2022.



“The increasing trend of unruly passenger incidents is
worrying,” IATA Deputy Director General Conrad Clifford said. “Passengers and
crew are entitled to a safe and hassle-free experience on board. For that,
passengers must comply with crew instructions.”

Most of the issues were associated with passengers smoking in
the cabin or lavatories, failing to put on seatbelts, exceeding the carry-on
baggage allowance and consuming alcohol brought onboard. 

Reports of physical abuse also jumped by 61 percent from 2021,
occurring once every 17,200 flights.

“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,” Clifford continued. “There is no excuse for not following the
instructions of the crew.”

To combat the rise in reported passenger incidents last year,
the IATA has developed a two-pillar strategy and zero-tolerance approach to
unruly behavior. Officials are pushing for more government regulations and
advocating guidance to prevent and de-escalate further incidents, including working
with industry partners on the ground and sharing best practices.

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