Abusive and/or disruptive passenger behavior on airplanes is on
AFA received more reports from its members over the last two years than it has in the history of the Union. Statistics from the FAA and airlines support the claim that these incidents are rising. One airline recorded 404 incidents in 1996, nearly double the 226 incidents recorded in 1995. Another reported 836 incidents in 1995, compared to 296 in 1994.
Disruptive behavior cuts across all socio-economic groups: male, female, young, old, first class, business and economy.
Reasons for the increase in unruly passenger behavior are
AFA correlates the increase in incidents with the reduction in per passenger space; anxiety and/or fear of flying which creates a sense of powerlessness; and the disparity between expectations set by marketing programs and the reality of flying.
Travel by air has become mass transit. As more people fly, planes become more crowded. People are less tolerant of problems and delays. Alcohol, a factor in many reported incidents, serves to exacerbate disruptive behavior.
Assault of a flight attendant is a very serious safety treat and
a violation of federal law.
Verbal or physical threats, intimidation and/or assault of a crewmember is a felony which can carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. (FAR 91.11)
Flight attendants are onboard aircraft for passenger safety. Disruptive passengers take the flight attendant and/or cockpit crew away from safety duties, jeopardizing the safety of the entire flight.
Written Zero Tolerance Polices - Airlines must adopt written policies on disruptive passengers which spell out the steps to be taken when an incident occurs. Support, such as legal advice and time off for court appearances, should be provided for flight attendants who wish to press charges against the offending passenger.
Passenger Education - Notice of an airline's Zero
Tolerance polices must be communicated plainly to the traveling public. Educational
materials explaining laws governing interference with crew members and the possible
consequences must be provided to passengers.