As fliers in the 21st century, we're more cramped, crowded, and delayed than ever before.
Seat size has shrunk, bags are—by and large—no longer free, and à la carte pricing at 30,000 feet has become an industry norm. Ham and cheese sandwich? That'll be $9.50. Despite $60,000 first-class suites on Emirates, for most of us, the Golden Age of Flying is long, long gone.
Given that our spaces on board an aircraft are smaller—and that even walking through first class makes economy-bound passengers angry—it's hardly surprising, then, that "unruly passenger incidents" that lead to a passenger's arrest (or worse, to a plane being turned around) are on the rise: The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline industry body, found a 14 percent increase in incidents reported in 2015 compared to the previous year.
Put another way? In 2015, you had a one in 1,205 chance of encountering a drunk or disruptive passenger on your flight. In 2014, you had one in 1,282 odds.
More from Conde Nast Traveler
The majority of incidents noted by the IATA involved verbal abuse and failure to follow lawful crew instructions. (Exhibit A: The United flight that turned around after a passenger refused to follow crew instructions and had a "yoga breakdown.")
Eleven percent of reports involved physical aggression toward passengers or crew, and included damage to the aircraft. Alcohol or drug intoxication was listed as a key factor in 23 percent of the cases, though the report notes that in the majority of these instances, consumption was prior to boarding or from personal supply "without knowledge of the crew."
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO, said that the increase in reported incidents "tells us that more effective deterrents are needed." One suggestion? Limiting drinking before passengers board the plane, an idea that has some adherents: In August, British aviation minister Tariq Ahmad hinted at banning alcohol at U.K. airports entirely.