Airlines call for stronger measures against disruptive passengers

A number of international airlines fed up with on board “louts” are calling on their respective governments to sign up to proposed amendments to the Tokyo Convention, which would give the airlines more power to deal with drunk, violent and disruptive passengers – as well as passengers who refuse to follow safety instructions.

The proposals would enable the airlines to recover any costs incurred because of a difficult passenger’s disruptive behaviour.

Members of the International Air Transport Association agreed at a conference recently to proposed changes to the Tokyo Convention, which currently outlines the legal steps for dealing with unruly passengers.

“This agreement is good news for everybody who flies – passengers and crew alike,” said IATA director general Tony Tyler.

“The changes, along with the measures already being taken by airlines, will provide an effective deterrent for unacceptable behaviour on board aircraft.

About 300 incidents of unruly behavior are apparently reported every week, many of them alcohol-related.

“We urge governments to move quickly,” Tyler added.

The changes, agreed at the conference attended by officials from about 100 governments, will come into force once 22 countries in all ratify the protocol to the Tokyo Convention.

The latest measures will close a loophole the IATA says has until now allowed many serious offences to go unpunished.

The airlines have agreed that the protocol should more clearly define unruly behaviour – which would include both the threat of or actual physical assault, or the refusal to follow safety instructions.

Thankfully, unruly passengers are a very small minority overall.
“But unacceptable behaviour on board an aircraft can have serious consequences for the safety of all on board,” Tyler added. “The goal is to effectively deter such behaviour and ensure safe flights for all by making the consequences of such behaviour clear and enforceable.”

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