Concerns over global rise in air rage

Air rage among passengers increased last year when there were more than 10,854 incidents worldwide. This equates to one incident for every 1,205 flights, said the International Air Transport Association. The previous year, there were 9,316 incidents. It said the majority of incidents involved verbal abuse, failure to follow crew instructions and other forms of anti-social behavior. A significant proportion (11%) of reports indicated physical aggression towards passengers or crew or damage to the aircraft. Alcohol or drug intoxication was identified as a factor in 23% of cases, though in the vast majority of instances these were consumed prior to boarding or from personal supply without knowledge of the crew, said IATA. “Unruly and disruptive behavior is simply not acceptable. The anti-social behavior of a tiny minority of customers can have unpleasant consequences for the safety and comfort of all on board,” said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac. “The increase in reported incidents tells us that more effective deterrents are needed. Airlines and airports are guided by core principles developed in 2014 to help prevent and manage such incidents. Be we cannot do it alone.” IATA is calling on more governments to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014 which defines ‘unruly behavior’, extends jurisdiction over in-flight incidents to the destination country of the flight and allows airlines to recover costs stemming from unruly behaviour. At least 22 states must ratify the Protocol for it to come into force; so far, only six states have done so. “More are needed in order to have a consistent global approach to this issue,” said de Juniac. IATA is supporting the code of practice pioneered in the UK, which includes a focus on prevention of intoxication and excessive drinking prior to boarding. Staff in airport bars and duty-free shops must be trained to serve alcohol responsibly and there is a need to avoid offers that encourage so-called ‘binge drinking’, said IATA. Evidence from an initiative by Monarch at Gatwick has shown instances of disruptive behavior can be cut 50% with this pro-active approach before passengers’ board, it claimed. The industry believes that adopting this cooperative voluntary approach is preferable to heavy-handed regulation and licensing, said de Juniac. “There is no easy answer to stem the rise in reported unruly behavior. “We need a balanced solution in which all stakeholders can collaborate. The industry’s core principles can help to manage the small percentage of passengers who abuse alcohol. “And it must be balanced with efforts by governments taking advantage of all their deterrence mechanisms, including those provided through the Montreal Protocol 14.”