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Airport Miscellany Security Travel Etiquette

Passengers’ Bad Behavior On the Rise

Turns out the friendly skies are, well…the jokes sort of write themselves.

USA Today reports that incidents of “unruly airline passengers, ranging from yelling to fighting, grew last year worldwide as airlines sought cooperation to reduce the abuse.” There were 10,854 reported incidents worldwide in 2015, up from 9,316 the year before, per the International Air Transport Association (IATA). That’s an increase of 17 percent.

The good news? The U.S. isn’t really part of the problem. Incidents here peaked in 2004, when 310 were reported. In 2015 that number was down to 103. So we get a gold star for good behavior.

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Overall, most incidents involved verbal abuse or not following crew instructions. But according to USA Today, 11 percent of the incidents involved physical aggression toward other passengers or crew members, or damage to the plane. And 23 percent of those incidents involved alcohol, which IATA says was mostly consumed prior to boarding.

“I don’t think anybody knows exactly the reason driving the rise,” said IATA assistant director, Tom Coleman, according to the BBC. “Perhaps it’s just reflective of societal changes where anti-social behavior is more prevalent and perhaps more accepted.”

There have been several notable incidents of bad behavior, including the time a Southwest passenger choked a fellow passenger over a reclined seat or, just last month, when an Orlando-bound British Airways flight was diverted when a passenger “interfered with flight crew.”

Readers, have you ever been on a flight where an unruly passenger caused a disturbance or, worse, a diversion or delay? Share your story below.

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

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