IATA adopts resolution to tackle in-flight passenger behaviour

Written by PTI | Doha | Updated: Jun 4 2014, 18:30pm hrs
IATAIATA DG Tony Tyler said that everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive behaviour.
To check growing instances of unruly in-flight behaviour by passengers, airlines around the world have decided to work jointly on steps to check the menace.

A resolution to this effect was adopted unanimously at the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) 70th Annual General Meeting, which concluded here, calling on governments and industry to work together on a balanced package of measures to effectively deter and manage the significant problem of unruly air passenger behaviour.

Such behaviour includes committing physical assault, disturbing good order on board or failing to follow lawful crew instructions.

The significant decision, however, comes four years after India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) came out with directions to airlines to promptly report such behaviour and incidents to it without delay or further action. Since then, several such passengers have been arrested on the ground by the police or airport security personnel.

"This resolution confirms the determination of airlines to defend the rights of their passengers and crew. Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour," Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO, said at the summit-level conference here.

"Many airlines have trained both ground staff and cabin crew in procedures not only to manage incidents of unruly behaviour but also in measures to prevent them. But a robust solution needs alignment among airlines, airports, and governments," he said.

The adoption of the resolution follows a diplomatic conference called by UN agency International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at which governments agreed to modernise and strengthen the Tokyo Convention of 1963.

The result, known as the Montreal Protocol 2014, provides a more practically effective deterrent to unruly behaviour by extending the legal jurisdiction for such events to the territory in which the aircraft lands.

"Governments have recognised that unruly passenger behaviour is a serious issue and we applaud the adoption of the resolution at an ICAO Diplomatic Conference earlier this year. Now, governments must ratify what they have agreed to," said Tyler.

The definition of unruly behaviour is wide and includes non-compliance with crew instructions, consumption of illegal narcotics, sexual harassment and physical or verbal confrontation or threats.

In 2013, the number of incidents of unruly behaviour voluntarily reported to IATA by airlines reached some 8,000 cases.

Intoxication, often resulting from alcohol already consumed before boarding, ranks high among factors linked to these incidents.

Other causes include irritation with another passenger's behaviour, frustration with rules such as smoking prohibitions or use of electronic devices or emotional triggers originating prior to flight.

The resolution was also adopted a few weeks after an inebriated Australian passenger who allegedly behaved violently causing closure of Bali airport on a Brisbane- Denpasar flight.

Reflecting the broad number of factors associated with unruly behaviour, the resolution's core principles on unruly passengers take a wide-ranging approach to the issue.

In addition to calling on governments to ratify the rule, the core principles include calls for airlines to ensure that they have in place corporate policies and appropriate training programmes for cabin crew and ground staff to enable them to prevent or manage disruptive passenger behaviour, including at check-in, during security search and at the gate.

"Each incident of unruly behaviour marks an unacceptable inconvenience to passengers and crew. Governments should adopt all the legal powers at their disposal to ensure unruly passengers face the appropriate consequences for their actions. Airlines, airports and others must work together to implement the right procedures and train staff to respond effectively to such instances," Tyler said.

Recently, an unruly passenger on board an IndiGo flight from Mumbai allegedly got violent and created ruckus in the aircraft, forcing authorities to hand him over to security officials when the plane landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

In May 2010, aviation regulator DGCA asked airline operators to report such cases without any delay, within 12 hours of an incident.