RESTRAINING disorderly passengers, breaking up fights and having to deal with alcohol-induced sexual harassment is not in a flight attendant’s job description – but every day they have to deal with it.
The number of serious incidents involving violent and conformational passengers has risen considerably according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Statistics released by the leading aviation trade group revealed a 50 percent increase from last year in passengers having to be forcibly restrained for carrying out abusive behavior which threatened the safety of the flight – with some passengers even trying to enter the cockpit.
The theme of intoxication has a key significance in the stories that hit the headlines, and with liter-bottles of spirts being cheaply available in duty-free shops, it may as comes as no surprise that travelers are getting boozy before they even board the plane.
Pilots from the Netherlands, for example, are calling for tighter controls on the sale of alcohol and want to see a blacklist of unruly passengers.
“Passengers who are already drunk prior to boarding the aircraft are notoriously the worst behaved and give cabin crew members a tough time,” a cabin crew manager who wishes to stay anonymous, told Travel Wire Asia.
“Stag and hen parties, in particular, are known to create wild flights and without the careful eye of crew members, they can easily get out of hand putting the safety of the aircraft at risk,” the cabin manager added. “Swearing, vulgar conversations and inappropriate behavior are the main things crew members need to be on hand to clamp down on as they must be mindful of other passengers who are on the aircraft as well.”
In June, a passenger on a Ryanair flight from Manchester in the UK to Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain, witnessed two people having sexual relations, one of whom had pregnant fiancee at home.
However, it is not always the passengers who give airlines a bad name and potentially ruin fellow travelers’ journeys. Some of the disturbances onboard come from the airline operators themselves.
Earlier this year, a United Airlines passenger was violently man-handled off a plane after refusing to give up his seat for a member of the crew.
“Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation,” Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines said in a statement shortly after the event in April.
Overall, the number of incidents reported in 2016 significantly dropped by 10 percent from those reported in 2015. Yet of the 9,837 reports, a bigger proportion were deemed higher risk – and 444 situations ended in physical altercations.
The figures included in the report are taken from 190 of the world’s airlines and “are likely to significantly underestimate the extent of the problem”, said Tim Colehan, IATA’s assistant director for external affairs.