News / Europe

Airlines Seek New Rules to Handle Unruly Travelers

Passengers wait to disembark an American Airlines flight from Miami after arriving in New York, Dec. 10, 2013.
Passengers wait to disembark an American Airlines flight from Miami after arriving in New York, Dec. 10, 2013.
Reuters
— Fighting soccer fans, fashion models screaming obscenities and a French film star relieving himself in the gangway are just a few well publicized examples of what airlines say is a growing trend of abusive passenger behavior on planes.
 
Briefing journalists this week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it aims to use a conference in Montreal next March to seek agreement on the rights of crews and captains to do whatever is necessary to subdue offenders.
 
“Unruly passenger behavior...is on the increase,” Tim Colehan of the Geneva-based grouping told reporters. “ It is a problem which our crews and other travelers face every day.”
 
He cited as typical a woman passenger who fought cabin crew after throwing liquor at them, and then shouted abuse at stewards and fellow passengers throughout an overnight flight from Europe to Thailand.
 
Since 2007, when it began recording data, well over 15,000 incidents have been reported to IATA, Colehan said. “But there are almost certainly many more which we never hear about.”
 
The problem for the airlines and the crews, said Colehan, is that international law has not caught up with the new world of global air travel.
 
Often offenders, like the violent woman passenger on the Bangkok flight, go scot free because police in countries where planes land say they have no jurisdiction.

Lack of clarity
 
Worse, IATA says, the lack of clarity in the current 1963 Tokyo Convention that governs such cases leaves cabin crew and pilots uncertain on how to respond.
 
“There is always the fear that they could be sued for assault if they restrain a violent passenger,” Colehan said.
 
Other incidents in the skies this year include a violent attack on a stewardess in China, an American viewing pornography on his computer, and a South African couple having First Class sex, according to credible media reports.
 
A Russian woman on a flight from Los Angeles to London drank liquid soap when refused alcohol, and tried to bite a steward. On another plane a man seized wine from a trolley and locked himself in the toilet to drink it.
 
Several years ago, IATA told its 240-odd members - which include almost all the world's scheduled carriers - that they should back their crews and try to ensure that badly behaved passengers are taken to court.
 
But the absence of well-defined legislation means that this often leads nowhere. The Tokyo convention was originally drawn up to deal with hijacks.
 
IATA wants governments to agree at the March conference, convened by the International Civil Aviation Organization, on a new convention that will spell out the right of an airliner's captain to do what he feels necessary to control misbehaving passengers.
 
But the airlines are not sure of the outcome. “We are confident there will be a new convention, but - with so many governments having to agree - we have to wait to see how it turns out,” Colehan said.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid