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Tue 3 Jun 2014 03:46 PM

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Airlines call on gov’ts to tackle issue of unruly passengers

Alcohol consumption is the number one cause of such behaviour, aviation authority IATA says

Airlines call on gov’ts to tackle issue of unruly passengers
(AFP/Getty Images)

Gulf airlines have joined their industry peers in calling for governments to implement action to tackle the issue of unruly behaviour by passengers, part of a resolution adopted unanimously at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting currently taking place in Doha.

“This resolution confirms the determination of airlines to defend the rights of their passengers and crew. Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Many airlines have trained both ground staff and cabin crew in procedures not only to manage incidents of unruly behaviour but also in measures to prevent them. But a robust solution needs alignment among airlines, airports, and governments.”

The definition of unruly behaviour includes non-compliance with crew instructions, consumption of illegal narcotics, sexual harassment, and physical or verbal confrontation or threats.

Last year, the number of incidents of unruly behaviour voluntarily reported to IATA by airlines reached some 8,000 cases. Intoxication, often resulting from alcohol already consumed before boarding, ranks high among factors linked to these incidents. Other causes include irritation with another passenger’s behaviour and anxiety due to frustration with the no-smoking ban.

The resolution follows a Diplomatic Conference called by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at which governments agreed to modernise and strengthen the Tokyo Convention 1963, which was international treaty formally known as the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft.

The ACAO implemented Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14), which provides a more practically effective deterrent to unruly behaviour by extending the legal jurisdiction for such events to the territory in which the aircraft lands.

“Governments have recognised that unruly passenger behaviour is a serious issue and we applaud the adoption of MP14 at an ICAO Diplomatic Conference earlier this year. Now, governments must ratify what they have agreed to,” added Tyler.

The IATA resolution called on airlines and governments to raise awareness of the consequences of unruly behaviour and for airport bars and restaurants to implement procedures that could help prevent such behaviour.

“Each incident of unruly behaviour marks an unacceptable inconvenience to passengers and crew. A united and balanced approach to the prevention and management of unruly passengers by governments and industry is vital. Governments should adopt all the legal powers at their disposal to ensure unruly passengers face the appropriate consequences for their actions. Airlines, airports, and others must work together to implement the right procedures and train staff to respond effectively to such instances,” said Tyler.

Airlines in the region which are members of IATA include Air Arabia, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Gulf Air, Jazeera Airways, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

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RAH 6 years ago

Ban the alcohol in airports and flights and we get rid of 80% of unruly/disruptive behaviors inflight.

Obviously 80% of readers wont accept my proposal but hey, it’s just my opinion and it’s not like governments will heed my advice anyway.

Doug 6 years ago

As someone who does drink alcohol, and often indulges in the peculiarly British tradition of a pint at some weird time in the morning at the airport before getting on a flight...I have to say, I completely agree with you.

The majority of 'issues' in flights and at airports always seem to be caused by someone who thinks because they're getting on a plane, the usual rules about sensible consumption and behaving like a decent human being don't apply to them. There is nothing worse than having to sit next to some drunk stranger on a plane and I feel very sorry for the air crew that have to deal with them.

Interestingly though, on plenty of flights out of the Middle East, it's not just Westerners who get unpleasantly drunk...but of course, we don't talk about that, right?

Ameera 6 years ago

Doug, RAH, completely support your comments and slightly disagree as well. I think there should be a limit set as to how much alcohol an indvidual can consume prior to a flight. But how can you monitor someone who steps out of one joint and into another prior to his/her flight?

I have never consumed alcohol, but have seen friends and strangers alike step out of line on several occassions. In-flight included!!

I think every passenger should consider his/her limitation before ordering a drink(s) with regards to respecting other passengers. If you can't hold your drink, don't order! Sitting next to a drunk passenger is never a joy.

And yes Doug, Westeners alone are not guilty... As an Emirati, I can confirm I have been surprised on several occassions but then as you said, WHO flies intoxicated is not the topic of this article but it is a brilliant discussion tho (for me atleast!) =]

Doug 6 years ago

@Ameera - your system would make perfect sense if all people could act responsibly! The problem is that while most people who drink will do so responsibly and won't go beyond their limitations, a small minority simply will just keep drinking - and it's those ones who are the people causing trouble.

Adding to this is the fact that alcohol actually has a more significant affect at high altitude - it is fairly common knowledge that when you drink on plane that what might be a small amount on the ground (say, one 330ml can of regular strength beer) effectively becomes the equivalent of much larger amount when airborne - not sure why, but I think it's something to do with air pressure and oxygen levels.

In the UK they don't allow drinking on coaches, bus or most trains. Shouldn't be any different for planes either.