The aviation sector is certainly gladdened to see the surging demand for air travel this summer, but is also a little concerned by regular reports of disruptive behaviour among passengers. From drunkenness to aggression, bad behaviour on flights is not only upsetting and dangerous in a confined space, but can lead to flights needing to be diverted, which leads to a great deal of disruption and expense for airlines and fellow travellers. Such behaviour does not go unpunished though, as the UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF), the Airport Operators Association (AOA), Airlines UK and IATA are keen to remind travellers.
Those four organisations, which together represent most of the civil aviation and travel retail industry, from airlines and airports, to airside retailers, food and beverage outlets and duty free brands, have launched the One Too Many campaign, an initiative that aims to encourage passengers to behave responsibly – or be held personally responsible.
It should be noted that as of Q1 2023, data from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that increases in disruptive passenger mandatory occurrence reports (MORs) increased largely in line with what would be expected from increases in air traffic, and remained similar to pre-pandemic 2019 levels. This is in line with anecdotal evidence shared by some of the UK’s largest airports and airport groups. In short, the proportion of people behaving badly is not increasing – but the number is increasing as more people fly, and many UK travel hubs are expecting air traffic to approach 100% of pre-pandemic levels this year. But there are few valid excuses for disrupting passengers and flight operations.
The campaign is using eye-catching black and yellow campaign graphics, applied to signage and departure boards in airport terminals and their retail areas, as well as a series of targeted social media adverts (Facebook and Instagram) and reminders sent directly to passengers’ mobile devices, to remind them of the serious consequences of disruptive behaviour at airports or onboard an aircraft. Passengers will also see fact-checking ‘Did You Know?’ alerts, reminding them of lesser-known airside rules, such as being banned from opening duty-free purchases until they arrive at their destination.
As Karen Dee, chief executive of the AOA, commented, the campaign, “is aimed at reminding everyone that they have responsibility for their own actions and to make sure their behaviour does not cause problems for others. Airports, along with partners across the sector, will be keeping a close watch for any disruptive behaviour and will not hesitate to take action to ensure the safety of passengers and staff. This summer we’ll see many people getting away for the first time since the pandemic and it would be a shame if the actions of a few were to spoil it for the many.”
The penalties are worth reminding people of, as key measures include:
- A lifetime ban – causing a flight to be cancelled could burden you with a life-time flying ban with that carrier
- Jail time – disrupting a flight could lead to up to two years in prison
- A large fine – being responsible for delaying a flight from taking off could result in a £5,000 penalty, while causing an incident mid-air could result in a maximum diversion fee of £80,000
- No holiday – if you are deemed unfit to fly, you will be denied boarding
Simon McNamara, UK & Ireland country manager at IATA, said of the campaign: “Unruly passengers are a continuing concern for air carriers. Though incidents are rare, an unruly passenger can pose a real threat to the safety of staff and other travellers. While our professional crews are well trained to manage unruly passenger scenarios, it is unacceptable that rules in place for everyone’s safety are disobeyed by a small but persistent minority of passengers. IATA is therefore delighted to support the UK’s One Too Many Campaign which is a stand out example of industry collaboration to effectively deal with triggers to unruly and disruptive passenger behaviour.”
Commenting on today’s announcement, the UK Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said: “We take a zero-tolerance approach towards disruptive behaviour, and we are committed to ensuring the safety and enjoyment of all passengers, as well as protecting our hardworking staff.
“I am pleased to see the relaunch of this collaborative campaign from industry – it serves as an important reminder that for all those flying: engaging in such behaviour has serious consequences, from jail time to a hefty fine. So, let’s all work together to keep our skies friendly and enjoyable for everyone.”