Dear Flight Attendants:

Recently via our ASAP program, we have noticed an uptick in passenger misconduct reports. This last meeting we had two instances of passengers making physical contact with 2 of our flight attendants. This is unacceptable. Aggressive and threatening behavior has unfortunately become more common in our society. The problem of unruly passengers is constantly increasing within the airline industry. Although unruly passengers represent only a minute proportion of our passengers as a whole, we must never forget that one aggressive passenger can jeopardize safety on board. Unruly passengers affect all personnel involved in the process connected with a flight. Passengers who demonstrate behavior of this kind are unacceptable.

The International Air Transport Association recently said it received reports of 10,854 air rage incidents from airlines worldwide last year, up from 9,316 incidents in 2014. That equates to one incident for every 1,205 flights, an increase from one incident per 1,282 flights the previous year. This is an average of 150 incidents each week around the world. A majority of incidents involved verbal abuse, failure to follow crew instructions and other anti-social behavior. Eleven percent included physical aggression toward passengers or crew or damage to the plane. There was a “clear, general upward trend in instances of unruly and disruptive behavior on board aircraft in commercial airline service”.

IATA has established the following non-exhaustive list of examples of “unruly/disruptive “behaviors on board:
 Illegal consumption of narcotics;
 Refusal to comply with safety instructions;(examples include not following Cabin Crew requests, e.g., instructions to fasten a seat belt, not to smoke, turn off a portable electronic device or disrupting the safety announcements)
 Verbal confrontation with crew members or other passengers;
 Physical confrontation with crew members or other passengers;
 Uncooperative passenger (examples include interfering with the crew’s duties, refusing to follow instructions to board or leave the aircraft);
 Making threats (includes all types of threats, whether directed against a person, e.g., threat to injure someone, or intended to cause confusion and chaos, such as statements referring to a bomb threat, or simply any threatening behavior that could affect the safety of the crew, passengers and aircraft);
 Sexual abuse / harassment; and
 Other type of riotous behavior. (examples include: screaming, annoying behavior, kicking and banging heads on seat backs/tray tables).

When you have an uncooperative passenger, and you have used all efforts for compliance, please report it to your Captain and get him involved immediately. Any physical contact of an aggressive nature towards a flight attendant at any time is not acceptable. By most definitions of the law, this does constitute assault. If you feel uncomfortable for your safety or the safety of the flight, report it to your Captain and speak up that said passenger should be removed. Notify the gate agent immediately and let them engage with the passenger. Do not put yourself in a heated situation any further once you get your Captain involved. Respond to his questions after he accesses the situation. Do not be afraid to speak up if you do feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Most of us are the only flight attendant onboard our flights. Safety for our flight attendants is of utmost importance as is safety of flight.

Also if you do have an incident onboard, with regards to witnesses, do keep note of passengers in the area, and in your reporting do report their names and seat numbers. Do and IOR and ASAP if you do have an incident. Also please let your local IAM rep know immediately as well.

On August 1, 2006, an LOA was signed ( LOA 14) which basically assures the flight attendant that they have Company support in pursuing criminal charges against passengers who have committed assault. Again I cannot reiterate enough, your safety is important and you do have rights. Below is the link for the LOA.

If you have any questions or ever have any concerns, please reach out to your base IAM reps or myself at .

Fly safe!!
Stephanie Starks
IAM Health and Safety Chair

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Updated: September 30, 2016 — 10:45 am
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