Air Rage Incidents Continue to Rise

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The friendly skies have gotten a bit more hostile -- and the same factor is involved in almost one-quarter of flare-ups.

Just what you wanted to hear going into the holiday travel season: Air rage is on the rise.

The International Air Transport Association, a trade group that represents some 265 airlines, released new statistics this week on what it calls “unruly passenger incidents”: Airlines worldwide reported 10,854 such incidents to the IATA last year. That equates to one incident for every 1,205 flights.

That figure is also up from the prior year, when airlines reported 9,316 incidents to IATA. That’s one incident for every 1,282 flights.

The majority of incidents involved:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Failure to follow lawful crew instructions
  • Other forms of anti-social behavior

Additionally, 11 percent of incidents involved physical aggression toward passengers or crew, or damage to the aircraft.

In 23 percent of incidents, alcohol or drug intoxication was identified as a factor. In the vast majority of those cases, the unruly passenger had consumed the drugs or alcohol prior to boarding, or consumed them from a personal supply without the crew knowing.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, says in a statement issued by the association:

“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. The increase in reported incidents tells us that more effective deterrents are needed.”

Among other preventative measures, IATA is calling for staff in airport bars and duty-free shops to be trained to serve alcohol responsibly, and to avoid offering specials that encourage binge drinking.

For example, the association’s statement notes:

Evidence from an initiative by Monarch Airlines at London’s Gatwick Airport has shown instances of disruptive behavior can be cut 50 percent with this pro-active approach before passengers board. The industry believes that adopting this cooperative voluntary approach is preferable to heavy-handed regulation and licensing.

The Associated Press reports this week that unruly passenger incidents have been rising almost consistently since 2007, when the IATA started tracking them. In 2007, airlines reported just 339 incidents to IATA.

What’s your take on air rage? Let us know what you think below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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