IATA called for more states to take the necessary authority to prosecute passengers under Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14)
Reported unruly passenger incidents on flights increased in 2022 compared to 2021, according to a new analysis released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Released during the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, the analysis revealed that there was one unruly incident reported for every 568 flights in 2022, up from one per 835 flights in 2021.
The most common categorizations of incidents in 2022 were non-compliance, verbal abuse and intoxication. Physical abuse incidents remain very rare, but these had an alarming increase of 61 percent over 2021, occurring once every 17,200 flights.
IATA’s Deputy Director General, Conrad Clifford, 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,” Clifford said, adding that “there is no excuse” for passengers to not follow the instructions of crews.
Although non-compliance incidents initially fell after the Covid-19 mask mandates were removed on most flights, the frequency began to rise again throughout 2022 and ended the year some 37 percent up on 2021.
The most common examples of non-compliance were:
– smoking of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes and puff devices in the cabin or lavatories
– failure to fasten seatbelts when instructed
– exceeding the carry-on baggage allowance or failing to store baggage when required
– consumption of own alcohol on board.
According to IATA, a two-pillar strategy is in place for the needed zero-tolerance approach to unruly behavior.
Regulation: Ensure governments have 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. Such powers exist in the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14), and IATA is urging all states to ratify this as soon as possible. To date, some 45 nations comprising 33 percent of international passenger traffic have ratified MP14.
Guidance to prevent and de-escalate incidents: Prevent incidents through collaboration with industry partners on the ground (such as airports, bars and restaurants and duty-free shops), including for example awareness campaigns on the consequences of unruly behavior. Additionally, sharing best practices, including training, for crew to de-escalate incidents when they occur.
“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,” IATA’s deputy director general added.