By Alison Fox
December 04, 2019

Horror stories of disorderly passengers seems like an all-too regular occurence in the world of airlines. But starting next month, nearly two dozen nations are looking to crack down on troublesome fliers around the world.

New legislation, ratified by 22 countries, aims to make it easier to punish unruly passengers, CNN reported. The legislation, entitled the Montreal Protocol 2014, will go into effect starting January 1, 2020.

“We want as many countries as possible to ratify this treaty," the Assistant Director of Corporate Communications for Europe at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Chris Goater, told CNN. "We expect more to do so — getting to 22 in five years doesn't sound that fast, but actually by the standards of international treaties that's really quick."

According to The Independent, the IATA hopes the agreement “enhances the capacity of states to curb the escalation in the severity and frequency of unruly [behavior] onboard aircraft.” The rule could only take effect when 22 countries had ratified the treaty, the paper explained, with Nigeria becoming the 22nd country in November.

Credit: Getty Images

Currently, many countries prescribe to the Tokyo Convention of 1963, which dictates jurisdiction over a flying airplane to the country in which the plane is registered, CNN reported. This gets complicated, however, if a plane lands in a different country following an offense committed in the air as local authorities are not as easily able to take control.

While some countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., have their own regulations that give local authorities the ability to take over, according to CNN, that isn’t the case for all nations.

There is an average of one incident per every 1,053 flights, according to the IATA’s latest available data from 2017. And three out of every five cases of serious inflight disruption go unpunished due to “jurisdictional issues,” Alexandre de Juniac, director general of IATA, told the Independent.

The new treaty also makes it easier for an airline to charge an offender for costs associated with a diversion caused by their behavior, which can be more than $200,000, the paper explained.