Unruly passengers on the rise internationally

There was an incident reported on one out of 568 flights in 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Planes parked at an airport in New Delhi, India
Posted at 3:28 PM, Jun 05, 2023

Unruly passengers aren't just a problem on U.S. flights. According to the International Air Transport Association, incidents involving unruly passengers are increasing globally.

The organization reports that there was an incident reported on one out of 568 flights in 2022, up from one per 835 flights in 2021. 

"The increasing trend of unruly passenger incidents is worrying. Passengers and crew are entitled to a safe and hassle-free experience on board," said International Air Transport Association Deputy Director General Conrad Clifford. 

Most unruly passenger incidents reportedly stemmed from a non-compliance issue, most notably refusing to fasten a seatbelt or failing to store baggage when required. 

The International Air Transport Association said while incidents of physical abuse remain rare, there was a 61% year-to-year increase in 2022. 

People pass through Salt Lake City International Airport on Jan. 11, 2023.

FAA: Reports of unruly passengers down 80% since 2021 high

The FAA says that there have been more than 250 cases of unruly passengers reported to the FBI since 2021, when referrals were at a record high.


The overall trend of unruly passengers on international flights is in contrast to what's happening on U.S. flights. 

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that rate of unruly passengers was down in 2022 as compared to 2021. However, it noted that the rate is still above pre-pandemic levels. 

The FAA has implemented a "zero-tolerance policy" for unruly passengers. Individuals can face criminal charges as well as civil penalties up to $37,000 per violation.  

The International Air Transport Association is calling on more countries to implement enforcement measures to deter passengers from lashing out.