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Airline Passengers Misbehave More Than You Think

By: forbes.com 3 months ago
Airline Passengers Misbehave More Than You Think

The challenge for airlines is to train employees how to recognize a potentially unruly passenger before he or she disrupts the flight. According to Phillip Baum managing director of Green Light Limited, that means recognizing things are not going well for the passenger before he or she erupts.

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Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police Department

Blake Adam Flesig and Anna Christine Koosmann were kicked off a Delta flight in 2016

Watch too much YouTube and you're likely to think every airliner in the sky has some over-caffeinated, wiseguy looking for trouble at cruise altitude. Remember Delta Air Lines passenger Adam Saleh of "I like to talk loud in Arabic while my buddy films me" fame? Or the two American guys who went at it on an All Nippon Airways flight from Tokyo to L.A. while frightened children screamed in the background?

Not confined to men alone, Anna Christine Koosmann and her boyfriend Blake Adam Flesig were unceremoniously, albeit loudly removed from a Delta flight in Minneapolis in December 2016.

Yep, its a wild world up the the blue yonder. Just how wild was made clear this week when the International Air Transport Association released a report showing that approximately 70 times a day, some airline, somewhere in the world has an unruly passenger to contend with.

Now, to be fair, the 9,837 incidents reported in 2016 aren't all folks acting out like the travelers mentioned above. Eighty seven percent of the time, it might be verbal abuse either of another passenger or a flight attendant. Sometimes that can be chalked up to the increasingly small seats on airliners and the diminution of services included in the price of the ticket.  Those policies aren't the result of decisions made by cabin attendants, but as the airline's most public face, flight attendants have to put up with a lot of guff.

One out of eight times however the event got physical either abusive, obscene or, horrors! the traveler began tampering with airplane equipment. The challenge for airlines is to train employees how to recognize a potentially unruly passenger before he or she disrupts the flight. According to Phillip Baum managing director of Green Light Limited, an aviation security training company, that means recognizing things are not going well for the passenger before he or she erupts.

"Unless the passenger has an underlying psychological condition or is drunk, most passengers whose behavior deviates are concerned about an issue," Baum said at a press briefing in Geneva. "It is of fundamental importance to demonstrate concern and caring," to keep a bad day for one person from becoming bad news for everyone on the plane.

Christine Negroni

Phillip Baum demonstrates some bad passenger behavior on volunteers at an IATA press briefing in Geneva

Its notable that Baum's disclaimer included the role of alcohol. The report said that intoxication was far and away the major factor in disruptive events. With that in mind, it may be less of a surprise that smoking, which is no longer allowed on any airline, makes up more than half of the cases where passengers fail to comply with safety regulations.

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