Unruly aircraft passenger
An unruly or disruptive aircraft passenger is a passenger on a commercial aircraft whose behavior poses risk to the safety and security of crew and other passengers. With a lack of access to law enforcement while flying, flight attendants (and sometimes passengers) are charged with the responsibility to handle such passengers.
In the United States, several hundred and sometimes more than one thousand such incidents are reported on commercial airlines each year.
The most common cause of a passenger acting unruly is from intoxication. The availability of alcoholic beverages on airlines and at airports enables passengers to drink excessively before and during flights. Flight attendants have the ability to keep track of how many drinks are served to passengers while on board an aircraft, but have no way of knowing how many are consumed prior to boarding. Despite urban legends, however, the effects of alcohol are not increased at altitude.
Other causes include the use of drugs (prescription or illegal).
The lack of Oxygen due to saving fuel in compressing the thin air outside has its effect.
Handling unruly passengers
Extremely unruly passengers who must be restrained are restrained using a variety of methods. Some airlines carry flexcuffs for this purpose. Others use seatbelts, adhesive tape, neckties, shoe laces, or whatever is available on the aircraft. While the United States does not allow passengers to actually be confined to the seat or any other part of the aircraft, and only allows their individual body parts to be restrained, other countries, such as Iceland, do allow tying an unruly passenger to the seat.
In the United States, passengers who disrupt the duties of a flight crew member can face fines up to $25,000 and sometimes lengthy prison sentences. In addition, the airline can choose to ban the problem passenger from any future flights.
Unruly crew members
Less common are incidents of unruly crew members. Long hours and low pay have been seen as factors contributing to unruly behavior in staff.
- Maloof, Rick (26 July 2013). "How often are unruly airline passengers kicked off flights?". MSN Living. Archived from the original on November 14, 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
- O'Connor, Anahad (1 September 2008). "The Claim: You Get Drunk Faster at High Altitudes". New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2014.