Bad passenger behavior on the increase says UK agency
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reports that incidents of air rage on UK airlines are on the increase. Disruptive behavior by passengers has been reported all over the world, but the spike in the UK has led one airline to consider partly banning the sale of alcohol on its flights. Is that all there is to it?
The BBC reports that there have been 386 "dangerous" incidents involving passengers over the last two years on flights operated by UK-based airlines. In 2013, there were only 85, according to the BBC. Problems have ranged from infighting among passengers to failed attempts to open aircraft doors. For those concerned about someone doing that in flight, rest assured. Aircraft doors will not open in flight due the air pressure inside the cabin. However, the four-fold increase in passenger incidents in just two years is alarming.
There is no definitive answer as to why the increase in passenger misbehaviour has become so pronounced. Perhaps we are looking at an age where every public event is captured on someone's smartphone, giving media outlets just what they like – a story that attracts eyeballs to their websites. It could also be that there are more passengers under some form of medication than we realize. Some authorities believe that the availability of alcohol could play a part, and if medication and alcohol are mixed, the results are often unpleasant.
In July, a UK aviation minister began looking into how alcohol is made available at airports, reported the BBC. People who choose to drink before flying can readily find available alcohol and "pre-load", according to Phil Ward, managing director at budget carrier Jet 2. The airline has announced that it is not serving any alcohol on board before 8:00. Whether that helps quell the surge in passenger air rage incidents remains to be seen but it appears that some airlines have had enough.
Flights that are forced to divert to another airport to unload a problem passenger cost the airlines fuel, crew time expenses, landing fees and the inconvenience to possibly hundreds of other passengers. Some airlines have banned unruly passengers for life and flight crews have had to receive additional training on handling incidents of air rage – a protocol they have been used to since the terror attacks of 2001. Still, the numbers of incidents are rather small when taking into account the millions of passengers that take to the skies around the world each day; but one unruly passenger is an unwelcome danger to an industry that boasts safety as its first priority.