Air rage incidents reported by airlines on the rise

Richard Graulich

That equals one incident for every 1,205 flights, compared with one in every 1,282 flights.

Incidents have been rising nearly consistently since 2007, when the association began tracking the issue. But reports in the US have declined in recent years.

Most incidents involved verbal abuse or a failure to follow crew instructions, the airline group said.

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About 11 percent of incidents were of physical aggression towards passengers or crew, or damage to the aircraft.

Incidents of "air rage" rose substantially in 2015 and often involved drug or alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol, or even "drug intoxication" was identified as a factor in 23% of cases and it is notable that in the vast majority of instances these substances were consumed either prior to boarding, or from personal supplies without any knowledge of the crew.

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In some countries there has been a focus on the role of alcohol as a trigger for disruptive behaviour.

The association says that "staff in airport bars and duty free shops" must be trained to serve alcohol responsibly and should avoid offers that encourage people to engage in so-called "binge drinking".

The cost of diverting a long-haul flight to remove an unruly passenger is estimated to cost airlines around $A260,000.

A woman in England pleaded guilty in June to assaulting an EasyJet pilot. Airlines already have strong guidelines and crew training on the responsible provision of alcohol. But he noted that the increases correspond with efforts by airlines to squeeze more passenger seats onto planes by shrinking legroom and seat width. The following month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Hawaii state sheriffs arrested a 35-year-old man who allegedly bit a flight attendant on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Pago Pago in American Samoa to Honolulu.

The number of incidents of unruly passengers onboard aircraft is increasing, according to global airlines body IATA. "The anti-social behavior of a tiny minority of customers can have unpleasant consequences for the safety and comfort of all on board", Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and chief executive, said in a statement.

IATA last week requested anti-trust immunity from the United States to allow the association to legally discuss routes to Venezuela, which is blocking $3.78 billion in ticket revenues from leaving the country.