World’s airlines are telling passengers to mind their manners

 Thursday, April 13, 2023 


The world’s airlines are in need of more pilots and cabin crew.

And even as they are tested and trained on the latest flight systems, the crew are required to pick up one other set of skills – handling possible ‘air rage’ situations.

The big Gulf airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have a sky marshal accompanying the crew on long-haul flights.

The sky marshals oversee security and ensure no lapses and skirmishes occur on these flights, said Capt. Shahinsha Khan, Chief Flight Instructor at a pilot training school in India.

But many international carriers don’t always have sky marshals, which increases the risk.

Since the start of the post-Covid travel boom, there have been more instances of disturbing behaviour on the past of passengers. The most recent one took place on a London-bound Air India flight, and which promoted India’s civil aviation watchdog DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to issue a stern warning to all airlines to crack down on such conduct during flights. (A violent mid-air altercation forced the Air India flight to return to Delhi airport.)

The consulting firm Oliver Wyman estimates that despite efforts to close the gap, airlines will face shortage of nearly 30,000 pilots by 2032.

According to Federal Aviation Administration in the US, airlines have reported around 2,300 disruptive passengers in 2022 alone. And 63 passengers were placed on the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry’s no-fly list.

UAE rules on passenger behaviour

According to Bilal Tahboub, co-founder at Dynamics Advanced Training based in Dubai South, dealing with unruly passengers falls under the UAE’s ‘aviation security training’ for pilots and cabin crew. Aviation crews in the Middle East are trained at length on these matters. Dynamics Advanced Training follows protocols set by UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

According to Tahboub, “The first rule in dealing with disruptive passengers is to give them at least three warnings. According to GCAA’s regulations, if the passenger fails to comply or persists with their unruly behaviour, they can be handcuffed with the captain’s permission.”

The handcuffed passenger will be placed on their seat or moved to an alternative. Once the flight is about to land at its final destination, the aircraft’s captain should liaise with ground control to pass the matter on to the authorities upon arrival. (In case of an emergency landing, the unruly passenger’s handcuffs can be removed before the flight lands.)

While these are the approved protocols for dealing with disruptive passengers, the reality in-flight tends to be subjective.

In some cases, if the cabin crew requires it, they can ask other passengers on the flight for support with the disruptive person, said Tahboub.

For example, the crew can ask able-bodied passengers if they have had any training in the paramilitary or with security services.

What can be done to mitigate air rage?

Airlines must limit serving certain types of beverages in-flight.

Cabin crew must have intensive familiarizing of procedures to deal with unruly passengers.

Airlines must take strict action against unruly passengers, such as placing offenders on temporary or permanent no-fly lists, depending on their offences.

Cabin crew need intensive training

While severe disruptive behaviour from passengers is still a rarity – and every flier is or should be aware of the consequences – any incident can be costly for airlines and causes delays.

Some flight instructors reckon that these skirmishes are becoming more frequent due to shorter training periods to meet the high demand for pilots and cabin crew.

While most aviation watchdogs such as the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security in India have a module to deal with unruly passengers, the new crew members are only familiarised with the learning program, said Khan.

DGCA’s prompt action following the incident on the Air India London-Delhi flight is an improvement in the larger scheme.

However, much more must be done to ensure these instances don’t keep repeating.

The advent of social media bought more such cases under the public spotlight as co-passengers shoot videos of these incidents on their smartphones and share them online.

Recent in-flight skirmishes

April 10, 2023: Delhi Police detained an ‘unruly’ passenger after he was de-boarded by Air India from its Delhi-London flight.

January 31, 2023: A 45-year-old Italian woman allegedly punched a cabin crew member and spat on another on a Mumbai-bound Vistara flight.

November 26, 2022: Shankar Mishra was arrested for allegedly urinating on a fellow passenger on board an Air India flight New York to Delhi. The Delhi Police arrested him on January 6 this year.

November 13, 2022: A United Airlines flight attendant was sent to the hospital following an altercation with a passenger on a flight to Chicago.

October 6, 2022: A passenger was accused of hitting a flight attendant in the back with a crutch on a Darwin-to-Sydney flight.

September 22, 2022: A man punched a flight attendant in the back of the head on an American Airlines Flight from Mexico to Los Angeles.

February 4, 2022: Delta removed two passengers from a flight at a Florida airport after one cursed at flight attendants.

Share On:

« Back to Page

Related Posts


Subscribe to our Newsletter

I want to receive travel news and trade event update from Travel And Tour World. I have read Travel And Tour World's Privacy Notice.

Sep 26
September 26 - September 28
Sep 29
September 29 - September 30
Oct 03
Oct 04
October 4 - October 6