The Stuck at the Airport team is in Istanbul this week for the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Air Transport Summit.
CEO & representatives from more than 300 airlines are here, along with government officials, equipment suppliers, and all manner of other aviation world players. And the agenda includes not only assessing how the industry is doing now, post-COVID-19, but how it’s going to handle itself going forward.
Unruly Passengers – Still A Growing Problem
The annual report on the number of unruly passenger incidents worldwide always gets our attention.
And this year’s report is both surprising and alarming.
We thought that the incidences of unruly passengers would have dropped when the airline mask mandates did.
But according to IATA data, the number of reported unruly passenger incidents worldwide actually increased in 2022 compared to 2021.
The latest figures show that there was one unruly incident reported for every 568 flights in 2022.
That’s up from one per 835 flights in 2021.
The most common categories of incidents in 2022 were non-compliance, verbal abuse, and intoxication.
In 2022, non-compliance incidents were up about 37% over 2021.
What’s considered non-compliance? Infractions such as smoking, refusing to fasten a seatbelt, failing to store baggage when told to, or consuming your own alcohol on board an airplane.
Physical abuse incidents are also on the rise. While IATA says physical abuse incidents are rare, they’re nevertheless up 61% over 2021, occurring once every 17,200 flights.
What is the airline industry doing about unruly passengers?
Mandatory pre-flight refresh classes in onboard etiquette aren’t on the table quite yet. (Although we like that idea.) But the airline industry has some strategies it is working on to address the unruly passenger issue.
Those strategies include:
*Getting more countries to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014, which gives governments the necessary legal authority to prosecute unruly passengers no matter their state of origin;
*Training more crew members on how to de-escalate incidents on the planes;
*And asking airports, airport bars and restaurants, and duty-free shops to help spread the word on the consequences of unruly behavior on airplanes.