Unruly Passengers

Unruly Passengers
In the period 2007-2013 there were over 28,000 reported cases of unruly passenger incidents on board aircraft in flight. These incidents include violence against crew and other passengers, harassment and failure to follow safety instructions.
Unruly passengers are a very small minority. But unacceptable behaviour on board an aircraft can have serious consequences for the safety of all on board. They inconvenience other passengers and lead to significant operational disruption and cost for airlines.
Safety in the air begins on the ground, and unruly passenger incidents are best managed in a preventative manned by keeping unruly behaviour on the ground and off the aircraft.
What is happening on the streets is now happening on board commercial aircraft. Incidents are occurring regularly, on all airlines and in every cabin class. In-flight, unruly passenger events can result in aircraft diversions. Because they require unplanned landings, these diversions are costly and create additional safety risks.
The Tokyo Convention 1963 makes it unlawful to commit “acts which, whether or not they are offences, may or do jeopardize the safety of the aircraft or of persons or property therein or which jeopardize good order or discipline on board”.
Assault and Other Acts of Interference against a Crew Member on Board a Civil Aircraft
Any person who commits on board a civil aircraft any of the following acts thereby commits an offence:
1. Assault, intimidation or threat, whether physical or verbal, against a crew member if such act interferes with the performance of     the duties of the crew member or lessens the ability of the crew member to perform those duties.
Air Carriers should always comply with the regulations and requirements of their competent Authority.
2. Refusal to follow a lawful instruction given by the aircraft commander, or on behalf of the aircraft commander by a crew member, for the purpose of ensuring the safety of the aircraft or of any person or property on board or for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board.
Assault and Other Acts Endangering Safety or Jeopardizing Good Order and Discipline on Board a Civil Aircraft
1. Any person who commits on board a civil aircraft an act of physical violence against a person or of sexual assault or child                   molestation thereby commits an offence.
2. Any person who commits on board a civil aircraft any of the following acts thereby commits an offence if such act is likely to           endanger the safety of the aircraft or of any person on board or if such act jeopardizes the good order and discipline on board           the aircraft:

  • assault, intimidation or threat, whether physical or verbal, against another person;
  • intentionally causing damage to, or destruction of, property;
  • consuming alcoholic beverages or drugs resulting in intoxication.

Other Offences Committed on Board a Civil Aircraft
Any person who commits on board a civil aircraft any of the following acts thereby commits an offence:
1. smoking in a lavatory, or smoking elsewhere in a manner likely to endanger the safety of the   aircraft;
2. tampering with a smoke detector or any other safety-related device on board the aircraft;
3. operating a portable electronic device when such act is prohibited.
Examples of Unruly/Disruptive Behaviours On Board
1.   Illegal consumption of narcotics;
2. Refusal to comply with safety instructions; (examples include not following Cabin Crew requests, e.g., instructions to fasten a           seat belt, not to smoke, turn off a portable electronic device or disrupting the safety announcements)
3. Verbal confrontation with crew members or other passengers;
4. Physical confrontation with crew members or other passengers;
5. Uncooperative passenger (examples include interfering with the crew’s duties, refusing to follow instructions to board or leave        the aircraft);
6. Making threats (includes all types of threats, whether directed against a person, e.g., threat to injure someone, or intended to             cause confusion and chaos, such as statements referring to a bomb threat, or simply any threatening behaviour that could                   affect the safety of the crew, passengers and aircraft);
7. Sexual abuse / harassment; and
8. Other type of riotous behaviour. (Examples include: screaming, annoying behaviour, kicking  and banging heads on seat backs/tray tables).
Refusal to carry passengers 
Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers that they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew or its passengers.
Reasons will typically include if the passenger:

  • is drunk or under the influence of drugs.
  • has refused to allow a security check to be carried out on them or their baggage.
  • has not obeyed the instructions of ground staff or a member of the crew of the aircraft relating to safety or security.
  • has used threatening, abusive or insulting words towards ground staff, another passenger or a member of the crew of the aircraft.
  • has behaved in a threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly way towards a member of ground staff or a member of the crew of the aircraft.
  • has deliberately interfered with the performance by a member of the crew of the aircraft of their duties.
  • has put the safety of either the aircraft or any person in it in danger.
  • or if the mental or physical state or health of the passenger is a danger or risk to themselves, the aircraft or any person in it.

Unacceptable behaviour on board 
Passengers must not do certain things while on board including:

  • Endangering the safety of an aircraft
  • Being drunk in an aircraft
  • Smoking
  • Disobeying a lawful command from the commander of an aircraft, and
  • Acting in a disruptive manner (including interfering with the work of a member of the cabin crew).

If a member of crew deems behaviour disruptive, they have the right to take measures they think reasonable to prevent the passenger continuing that behaviour. When the aircraft lands, their actions may include:

  • Making the passenger leave the aircraft; possibly under police escort
  • Refusing to carry the passenger on the remaining sectors of the journey shown on their ticket, and
  • Reporting the incident on board the aircraft to the relevant authorities with a view to them prosecuting for any criminal offences that may have been committed.

Serious offences could result in a large fine and/or imprisonment.
 

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