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Unruly passengers

Aggressive behaviour in the air is on the increase

Disruptive or unruly passengers are a problem for cabin crew and handling staff on the ground, as well as other passengers. It is a particular safety risk in the air, where workers can’t escape from violence or call for police assistance.

Why aggressive passengers often get away with it

Gaps in international law mean that airlines and victims of violence can't always take practical legal action. Many countries don’t apply their laws to foreign aircraft coming in to land. The passengers responsible often walk away.
For cabin crew, their main priority is the safety of their passengers. While dealing with an incident in the air, they’re not usually focused on collecting evidence for a prosecution afterwards.

What ITF is doing about unruly passengers

To tackle the problem of disruptive and abusive aircraft passengers, we’re working with bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing the airline industry, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)– the UN body for aviation.

Safety training for aviation staff

As the first line of defence against unruly passengers, staff on the ground play a vital role in preventing violence in the air, as do cabin crew. Their status as safety professionals must be enhanced. The ITF wants to see a focus on safety training for passenger-handling staff, notably:

  • senior cabin crew
  • pilots
  • gate agents
  • station managers
  • security personnel

We want airlines to make it clear that cabin crew are safety professionals, as well as service providers.