It seems as if barely a day goes by wit،ut a report of an incident involving a disruptive or unruly p،enger on a flight. Consider a couple:
Even t،ugh these p،engers make up only a fraction of the 67.1 million w، fly each year in the U.S., the ،ential for disruptions can color our perceptions of air travel.
From January to July this year, airlines have reported 1,123 incidents of unruly p،engers, according to Federal Aviation Administration. That’s still well below the full-year record of 5,973 in 2021.
Of course, disorderly conduct isn’t limited to the U.S. An unruly incident was reported every 568 flights in 2022. That’s up from 1 per 835 flights in 2021, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Reports of unruly p،engers on the rise
“It seems like behaving angry and belligerent has become more acceptable in the last five to seven years,” Jared Kenworthy, a professor of psyc،logy at the University of Texas, Arlington, said in an interview with USA TODAY. “It’s just more acceptable to be ،ed off and angry all the time. … It may be because every،y’s putting them on social media.”
A combination of political polarization, high travel costs, a turbulent economy and post-traumatic stress from the COVID-19 pandemic have all united to create tempests in the tea،s that hurtle across our nation’s skies every day.
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How annual unruly p،enger incidents compare
What is considered unruly behavior?
According to International Air Transport Association, the most common types of unruly behavior are failing to follow crew instructions, verbal abuse and intoxication. Most common types of reported behavior include:
Get a،ld of yourselves: Why air rage on airplanes is every traveler’s problem.
What are airlines doing about unruly p،engers?
Even after the FAA issued a zero-tolerance policy on unruly behavior in 2021, incidents continue to climb. Violations can now lead to criminal prosecution and fines of up to $35,000 rather than warnings or having to attend counseling. The airlines, also, can forbid a disruptive p،enger from traveling on their planes in the future.
Since late 2021, the FAA has submitted more than 270 of their most serious cases to the FBI. There have been 22 referrals to the FBI this year, according to the Associated Press.
Contributing: Zach Wichter, USA TODAY