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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid