IATA calls for tougher prosecution against unruly air passengers

  • Intoxicated passengers, delays, crowded flights main triggers of air rage
  • IATA: An offense to be intoxicated on board because you’re a safety risk
  • FAA: Over 1K cases of unruly passengers on U.S. flights reported as of July

(NewsNation) — Following a substantial increase in air rage assaults during 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. The agency introduced a zero-tolerance policy concerning unruly passenger behavior. Despite these measures, some still struggle to manage their anger.

In September 2022, an unruly passenger was arrested after he punched a flight attendant in the back of the head on a Los Angeles-bound flight from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

A passenger who witnessed the encounter said the agitated passenger attacked the attendant after being told he could not use the lavatory up front because he wasn’t a first-class passenger on the American Airlines flight.

Instances of air rage meltdowns have resulted in arrests, significant fines and in extreme cases of violence, even imprisonment.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is advocating for more stringent prosecution. Intoxicated passengers and travelers frustrated by delays and overcrowded flights typically serve as the primary triggers for incidents of air rage.

“Just to remind people, it’s actually an offense in many jurisdictions to be intoxicated on board an aircraft because you’re a safety risk,” said IATA Assistant Director of Member and External Relations Tim Colehan.

By July, the FAA has documented more than 1,100 instances of unruly passengers on U.S. flights. The agency reports a decrease of more than 80 percent in the frequency of unruly passengers since reaching record highs in early 2021.

A review of the past three years indicated a noticeable decline:

  • 2021: 5,973 reported cases
  • 2022: 2,455 reported cases
  • 2023: 1,123 reported cases YTD

Yet, with every viral high-altitude incident, the query arises: Where are the air the U.S. Air Marshals?

The TSA states there’s no shortage of marshals on domestic and international flights. However, NewsNation revealed last November that many air marshals had been reassigned to the southern border for humanitarian support.

Meanwhile, the Flight Attendants Association proposes mandatory self-defense training for crew members. Certain airlines have encouraged passengers to intervene in restraining unruly individuals until the plane can safely land.

In 2021, the FAA imposed significant fines on unruly passengers. A woman disrupting a flight faced an $80K fine for assaulting passengers and crew, while another woman was fined around $80K for biting a fellow passenger and attempting to open the airplane door mid-flight.


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