Fury at 38,000ft: Unruly behaviour on planes such as drunken abuse or violence saw a 47% rise in 2022 with incidents on one in every 568 flights compared to one in every 835
- Airline incidents with troublemaking passengers initially fell at the start of 2022
- But incidents rose for the rest of last year – including abuse and intoxication
Incidents with unruly passengers on flights worldwide rose by almost 50 per cent in 2022 compared with the previous year, according to a new report.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) gathered data recording one incident for every 568 flights across 2022 compared to one incident for every 835 flights in 2021 – around a 47 per cent increase.
Non-compliance with flight staff instructions, verbal abuse, and drunkenness accounted for the three most common incidents, IATA recorded.
Incidents with troublemaking passengers initially fell at the start of 2022 – at a time when mask requirements were dropped – before rising again across the year.
IATA represents some 300 airlines, accounting for around 83 per cent of global air traffic.
There was one incident for every 568 flights across 2022 according to IATA (file image of a Delta flight)
The report said there was an ‘alarming’ increase in physical abuse of airline staff. Although this accounted for a relatively small proportion of incidents – just one in every 17,200 flights – this was a 61 per cent increase from the previous year.
IATA recommended that further legal recognition be given to in-flight security staff to deal with unruly passengers and that countries ratify legislation better deal with air rage incidents upon their arrival regardless of the passenger’s state of origin.
The rise in non-compliance incidents accounted for smoking on board – including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vapes – refusal to fasten seatbelts, and failure to stow baggage when asked by attendants.
The body’s deputy director-general Conrad Clifford, speaking at the International Air Transport Association conference in Istanbul, 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.’
Vaping has become more prevalent on flights over the past year after becoming more popular socially. But smoke alarms onboard are not powerful enough to detect vapour from the device.
The rise in non-compliance incidents accounted for smoking on board – including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vapes (file image)
A cabin crew source told The Times: ‘Vaping is a huge issue on flights. We see people doing it all the time.
‘Often we tell them to stop and are just ignored, especially when passengers are drinking, or have been before boarding. It can get tense.’
It comes as it was found last month that ‘air rage’ incidents on UK flights have nearly tripped since before the coronavirus pandemic.
Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show a total of 1,028 cases of sexual assault, physical violence, mass brawls, drunken threats, verbal abuse and nudity.
This was triple the of incidents reported by UK airlines in 2019 – which saw 373 incidents.
These ‘air rage’ cases have become so prolific that MPs are now calling for a law change to help cabin crew deal with drunken and disruptive passengers.