Nearly 6,000 complaints of unruly passengers were filed to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2021, more than 4,000 of them stemming from refusal to wear a mask. In April 2022, however, the mask mandate was lifted and, naturally, unruly passenger incidents immediately subsided…right?
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), there was one unruly incident reported for every 568 flights in 2022, up from one per 835 flights in 2021. Not only that, the trend has persisted in 2023 — the trend that apparently had nothing to do with marks and everything to do with how we, as a society, seem to have forgotten how to act on planes.
And never has that been made any clearer than by the fact that, per a new report from CNN, non-compliance, verbal abuse and intoxication were the most frequently reported incidents in 2022 (there was also a 61% increase in physical abuse in 2022 over 2021).
A further breakdown by the IATA revealed that “smoking of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes and ‘puff devices’ in the cabin or lavatories” was the number one non-compliance issue, followed by “failure to fasten seat belts when instructed, exceeding the carry-on baggage allowance or failing to store baggage when required, and consumption of own alcohol on board.”
16 Tips for How to Be a Better Passenger, According to a Veteran Flight Attendant*Do* wear headphones while watching a movie. *Don’t* do yoga in the galley.
“The increasing trend of unruly passenger incidents is worrying. Passengers and crew are entitled to a safe and hassle-free experience on board,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s Deputy Director General. “There is no excuse for not following the instructions of the crew.”
For the uninitiated, electronic smoking devices are allowed on board, so long as they’re appropriately packed. It’s illegal to smoke them in flight as they contain lithium batteries that pose a fire risk. (If you’re not convinced, give some variation of “vape explodes on plane” a Google search and take a gander at the results.)
According to Clifford, a crackdown is imminent and, if Delta C.E.O Ed Bastian has any say, it could involve a no-fly list. Last year, in a letter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Bastian argued that unruly passengers should be banned from commercial flights for life.
“This action will help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not complying with crew member instructions on commercial aircraft,” Bastian said at the time.
Don’t be the guy on a no-fly list for vaping.
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