In 2021, the United States (US) has experienced a surge in unruly passenger behaviour on board flights, including verbal and physical assaults against fellow passengers and crew, damage of airline property, violations of the face mask mandate and other disruptive, dangerous and/or offensive behaviour. This behaviour has had a significant impact on the industry, particularly on cabin crew – who must deal with incidents in the isolation of aircraft cabins – and on airlines in general, with incidents leading to delays and flight diversions as well as negative press. The ongoing heightened levels of unruly passenger incidents in the US have led to a range of responses by airlines, industry unions and regulatory bodies, including the suspension of alcohol sales by airlines (also a response to the COVID-19 pandemic) and the introduction of high civil penalties.
Osprey Flight Solutions has supported the industry through the collection of relevant data and by issuing in-depth alerts highlighting significant incidents, relevant regulatory changes and causative factors such as political influences and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the face mask mandate and alcohol sale suspensions.
Unruly Passenger Timeline
The timeline below includes significant developments relating to the unruly passenger crisis in the US, including regulatory, airline and union responses as well as significant unruly passenger incidents that prompted those responses. It also includes Osprey’s output and support to the industry.
As per the FAA’s statistics, unruly passenger incidents relating to the face mask mandate account for approximately three quarters of incidents. With the mandate extended to 18 January, high levels of associated incidents are likely to continue into 2022. Osprey endeavours to support the aviation industry by providing a broad range of detailed, reliable and consistent data.