The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seeing a record high number of unruly passengers onboard, explaining why it’s so dangerous
As if traveling by air in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t nerve-wracking enough, the prospect of encountering unruly passengers on the plane is enough to terrify even the calmest of travelers. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported so many incidents due to unruly passengers mid-flight that the agency has released a chilling public service announcement to help remind people to behave respectfully and responsibly aboard their flights.
The PSA includes audio from recent in-flight emergencies caused by disruptive passengers, with the agency noting nearly 4,000 reports of unruly passengers and nearly 700 investigations initiated since January 1, 2021. For reference, in 2020, there were 183 investigations, and in 2019, just 146.
And yes, many of them stem from passengers who refuse to comply with mask policies, with the FAA noting nearly 3,000 reports of these incidents in 2021 alone. The agency is hoping to emphasize that not only is it disruptive and dangerous to fellow passengers and flight attendants, but also to pilots, who cannot safely fly the plane when people on board are acting like absolute assholes.
The PSA is seriously chilling, including audio from unspecified in-flight incidents. “We’ve got a disruptive customer in the back,” says one unidentified crew member in the clip. “Declared an emergency, we’d like to divert.” The message for passengers is clear: “You don’t want your pilots distracted. Unruly behavior doesn’t fly.”
Given that more than 70 percent of these scuffles are occurring due to the federal transportation mask mandate — which was recently extended and will remain in place through at least January 18, 2022 — it’s clear that people are handling this whole situation well. (And we say that with a heaping dose of sarcasm.) The FAA has taken measures to crack down on passengers who disrupt plane operations, including potential criminal charges, fines of up to $37,000, or lifetime bans on airlines, but it doesn’t seem to be clicking for those who are hellbent on being an asshole on an airplane.
It shouldn’t really take a PSA to remind people to act like civilized adults on a plane, but it’s clear that some folks need as many reminders as possible to do the bare minimum. The TL:DR of why it’s so unsafe: “The moment that [something] happens in the back [of the plane], the attention of the whole crew goes to that,” American Airlines’ Captain Dennis Tajer, of the Allied Pilots Association, told CNN. “The first thing you want to do is not distract from your primary duties,” i.e. “keeping this airplane safe.”
In short, it’s never acceptable to assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with crew members that are just trying to do their jobs and get passengers from point A to point B safely. Please, people.