There’s good news and bad news when it comes to being a passenger or a crewmember on an airplane today.
The good news: There are fewer unruly passengers this year than in previous years. The bad news? Those who misbehave have been more violent than before.
According to a new report by the International Air Transport Association, there were more than 58,000 unruly passenger incidents between 2007-2016, across four “levels” of disruption. The levels, APEX explained, range from one, which could include a failure to comply with safety procedures and crew requirements, to four, which is more like an attack on the flight deck.
The report found that rates of incidents across all levels decreased in 2016 when compared to 2015. In 2016 there was one incident for every 1,434 flights, compared to one in every 1,205 flights during 2015.
Now the bad news. According to the report, level two incidents, including physical assault, obscene behavior, verbal threats, harassment, or tampering with emergency or safety systems onboard, increased from 2015 to 2016. While it was a small increase, from 11 to 12 percent, violent behavior on planes is a big problem.
“In the confines of an aircraft, [level two incidents] are difficult to manage,” Tim Coleman, IATA’s assistant director, external affairs, shared at the IATA Media Day event in Geneva.
What’s causing passengers to become more unruly? As the report noted, it’s likely the consumption of alcohol and sometimes drugs. There were 444 Level two incidents attributed to intoxication in 2016, which accounts for a third of all level two offenses.
“What really is needed is continued focus by multiple stakeholders – by governments, by airlines and airports, and other companies – to implement the comprehensive approach IATA set out in our core principles back in 2014,” Coleman said. “Governments must do their part by ensuring that we have a strong deterrent. And we need airports, airport restaurants, airport bars and duty-free providers to make sure that they are serving, promoting and selling alcohol responsibly so we don’t have incidents of intoxication in the air.”