There is growing concern from airlines, governments and passengers at the increasing frequency and severity of these incidents that involve violence against crew and other passengers, harassment and failure to comply with safety and public health instructions. Committed by a minority of passengers, unruly incidents have a disproportionate impact, threatening safety, disrupting other passengers and crew and causing delays and diversions. However, due to loopholes in existing international air law, such offenses often go unpunished.

How IATA is addressing the issue of unruly passengers

At the 70th IATA AGM in June 2014, the industry unanimously adopted a set of core principles for dealing with the issue of unruly passenger behavior.  To support these principles, IATA has published a high level document Even safer and more enjoyable air travel for all – A strategy for reducing the problem of unruly and disruptive passenger incidents, that uses examples of good practice to illustrate the practical steps that must be taken to significantly reduce the problem of unruly and disruptive passengers including urging governments to:

  • Communicate the types of prohibited conduct onboard aircraft and the legal and other consequences of such conduct as per the Standards and Recommended Practices in Annex 9 – Facilitation of the Chicago Convention
  • To ratify MP14, thereby removing barriers to prosecution/enforcement action
  • To review the types of enforcement measures that are in place, consistent with the severity of the incident, including civil and administrative penalties such as fines that can be issued to ensure there are consequences to such behavior as per ICAO Doc.10117
  • To support the work of airlines and other industry stakeholders to prevent unruly and disruptive passenger incidents

To assist member airlines in prevention and management of unruly passenger incidents, IATA has developed extensive guidance and training, for example in de-escalation techniques and the responsible service of alcohol during flights.

IATA is also working with airports, duty-free retailers and other groups to ensure the responsible sales and marketing of alcohol to avoid unruly passenger incidents resulting from intoxication. In addition, IATA is participating in public awareness campaigns that encourage responsible consumption of alcohol before traveling by air such as the  Fly Safely, Drink Responsibly in Norway and the One Too Many in the UK, IATA is also working with partners to highlight the types of prohibited conduct onboard flights and is supporting the #notonmyflight campaign launched by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

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Perspectives of a medical expert, flight and cabin crew