The USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has found the rate of unruly passenger incidents on commercial flights has dropped “sharply” since it launched its Zero Tolerance campaign (see below) but the rate remains too high, according to its latest data.
As of last week, unruly passenger incidents were occurring approximately six times per every 10,000 flights. That represents a drop of approximately 50% from the early 2021 rate, but it is still more than twice as high as the rate at the end of 2020. The rate has fallen approximately 30% since the FAA launched its public awareness campaign with memes and two public service announcements.
“Our work is having an impact and the trend is moving in the right direction. But we need the progress to continue. This remains a serious safety threat, and one incident is one too many,” said FAA administrator, Steve Dickson. “The FAA will continue its Zero Tolerance policy, keep its public awareness campaign going, and keep pushing and partnering with everyone in the aviation system to do more. We appreciate the tremendous work of all our partners in the airline, airport, labour, and law enforcement communities.”
Using its full legal authority to deter dangerous behaviour during flights, the FAA adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward unruly passengers in January 2021. Under this policy, the FAA no longer issues warning letters. Instead, it moves directly to fines, which have totalled US$1.1 million to date. In addition to its public service announcement videos and memes, the agency has asked airports to help educate passengers that they can only consume alcohol on board that has been served by a flight attendant – not alcohol purchased elsewhere such as restaurants and shops in the airport. This policy gives crew a degree of control as they can gauge whether a passenger may have consumed too much alcohol already or be likely to cause an incident if given more drinks.
Later this month, the FAA plans to host unruly-passenger working sessions with key aviation stakeholders. The FAA will ask members of the aviation system to share best practices and to identify additional steps they and the US government can take to reduce the unruly incident rate further.
Detailed current data on these incidents is available on the unruly passenger website.