Drunk and violent airline passengers are on the rise, with airline staff now forced to physically restrain more mid-flight troublemakers than ever before.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says was a 50 percent rise this year in the number of passengers forcibly contained for bad behavior, ranging from verbal abuse to life-threatening situations.
The annual stats come after a year of headline-grabbing stories from across the world, including the famous case of a United Airlines passenger who was dragged from a flight back in April.
In one incident in October, a sozzled woman who lunged at a passenger on a flight from Manchester to Cancun forced the pilot to land 2,000 miles away in Quebec — and was then jailed for 20 days.
Bridget Hanley binged on gin and tonic, champagne and wine en route to the Mexican resort. When a fellow traveler asked her to stop slamming her tray, Hanley replied: “Shut up, ugly face. Who are you to tell me what to do?” before threatening to throw them out of the plane and lunging at a TUI crew member from holiday firm TUI.
In a separate incident in September, a brawl broke out on a Ryanair flight from Newcastle to Alicante when a “drunk” woman started “kicking off.” Both men and women flung punches over the seats as other passengers desperately tried to get away from the fight.
Booze is regularly involved when it comes to these incidents on planes – third of all incidents involved intoxicated passengers, with 444 registered as cases that “escalated physically.”
In July, a furious flyer was dragged off a UK flight by four cops for a “drunken” rant at a steward and a group of women. Footage shows the man shouting in the aisle during a Virgin Atlantic flight from London Gatwick to Montego Bay, Jamaica. He had been taking advantage of the free bar and flew into a rage after being refused more booze, according to witnesses.
Earlier in the year in May, a passenger forced a Flybe flight between Birmingham and Amsterdam to turn around and land again after he threatened to “p*** on the floor” just ten minutes after the plane had left the airport.
Kieran Tabberner became aggressive after he was told he could not use the toilet and directed his anger at air stewardess Robyn Pascoe, who was left so traumatized that she later quit her job of seven years over anxiety.
Last month, Tabberner was found guilty of behaving in a threatening, abusive and insulting manner towards a member of aircraft crew. He was fined $700, told to pay court costs of $700 and ordered to pay Pascoe $700 in compensation plus a $70 court surcharge.
Incidents like these are becoming more frequent, with the amount of disorderly passengers on planes rising year-on-year and many airlines now training staff for violent situations. The figures also show that passengers are more aggressive than they were before, with the number of incidents including physical assault rising to 12 percent from 11 percent.
The total number of incidents reported actually fell by 10 percent, with 9,837 counted in total, the equivalent of one incident every 1,434 flights. But the number of abusive incidents rose sharply, with 169 passengers having to be forcibly confined – more than double the previous year’s figure.
More than half of all cases involved passengers smoking on board, either in the main cabin or more commonly, in the toilets.
The tally of incidents took into account 190 of the world’s airlines, but with thousands of registered airlines existing across the globe, the IATA has admitted the figures could significantly underestimate the problem.