How About Airlines Report

Reports of unruly passengers disrupting airline flights soared almost 17 per cent around the world last year, with incidents like verbally abusing or refusing to obey cabin crew occurring on one out of every 1,205 flights.

Some 10,854 plane rage incidents were reported to the International Air Transport Association by airlines in 2015, up from 9,316 incidents the year before.

This equates to one incident for every 1,205 flights, compared with one incident for every 1,282 flights in 2014.

IATA said planes were also forced to make emergency landings because escalating conflicts put passengers at risk.

The statistics were released on the sidelines of a United Nations aviation assembly in Montreal with industry officials estimating the cost of diverting a long-haul flight to remove an unruly passenger at $200,000.

In one incident in the United States, a man on a Southwest Airlines Co flight to San Francisco started a fight with a woman in front of him after she reclined her seat.

Witnesses said the woman claimed the man tried to choke her before the plane was forced back to Los Angeles airport and the rest of the passengers delayed for five hours.

“The kind of behaviours that … might be acceptable on the ground take on a completely different complexion when you’re in the air,” IATA spokesman Tom Colehan said.

Two years ago Virgin Australia was forced to deny one of its planes had been hijacked after a drunk and unruly passenger tried to enter the cockpit as a plane flew from Brisbane to Bali.

And last year Chinese police detained 25 angry plane passengers on a China Eastern flight who opened three emergency exit doors before take-off after their flight was delayed by snow.

Passengers aren’t the only ones who can cause problems in the air.

Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-Ah was jailed and forced to resign after raging at a flight attendant for serving macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a plate.

Cho was vice president in charge of in-flight service and lambasted the chief steward over the behaviour of his cabin crew before ordering the plane back to the gate so he could be ejected.

Mr Colehan said “frustrations with journey” including long security lines could be triggers.

“I don’t think anybody knows exactly the reason driving the rise,” he said. “Perhaps it’s just reflective of societal changes where anti-social behaviour is more prevalent and perhaps more accepted.”

Alcohol or drug intoxication was identified by IATA as a factor in 23 per cent of the cases.

Mr Colehan said airlines want airport bar operators and ground handlers to alert them about unruly passengers before they reach the gate so carriers can decide whether they may cause a disturbance at 35,000 feet.

“For bar operators and restaurateurs, we’re also saying to them — look, you also have a responsibility to make sure … you’re not promoting binge drinking,” he said.