One in 10 passengers has experienced bad behaviour (abuse, shouting or general obnoxiousness) in the past year, according to research by Which? Travel.

This poses the question of what guidelines airline staff are expected to follow when a passenger, or group of passengers, is being disruptive. How do they calm, or restrain, passengers? What penalties can be handed out to the badly behaved? We’ve taken a closer look.

Having a few too many early pre-flight beers could prove expensive. While “acts of drunkenness” come with a maximum fine of £5,000, disruption could lead to a plane being diverted. A typical diversion could cost up to £80,000 – a charge that the disruptive passenger could be asked to cover.

Under UK law, it’s a criminal offence to be drunk on a plane. Passengers can only drink the alcohol served by cabin crew – while you can take duty-free alcohol onto the flight with you, you’re not permitted to drink it.

Between 2012 and 2016 there were 186 incidents per year. In 2017 that rose to 417. However, there was a slight drop in 2018 to 413.

While the rise between 2012 and 2017 is significant, it coincided with a growth in passenger numbers. The number of people departing from UK airports rose by 8.9 per cent between 2016 and 2018, according to CAA statistics.

And to put incident numbers into context, according to the International Air Transport Association, in 2017 there was one incident for every 1,053 flights.

In 2017, cabin crew told Panorama’s Plane Drunk that the worst routes for drunken passengers were all to Spain – Alicante, Ibiza and Palma, Majorca. More recently, British holidaymakers were named the most unruly by the Spanish Aviation Safety and Security Agency.

In the middle of a particularly sticky incident, cabin crew could bring out the handcuffs. The IATA guidance on dealing with unruly passengers, gives an example of crew resorting to this. It describes when two people were “heavily intoxicated” on a flight. A “lockdown situation” was initiated with no other passengers allowed to leave their seats. This does seem to be a last resort – the passengers in question were threatening to harm others and abusing crew members

Joanne Purvis, SecuriCare Director, says, “No crew member should have to face this behaviour but if they do they need the knowledge and skills to respond safely and effectively. This is where good training comes in .”

Securicare have worked with airlines extensively over the past 20 years, and been at the leading edge of developing disruptive passenger management solutions. Click here to find out more about our ‘Preventing & Managing Disruptive Passenger Behaviour’ course, and our widely used ‘Disruptive Passenger Restraint System’

Contact us for more information and to discuss your needs: E: or T: 01904 492442

For full story the Telegraph