Unruly Passenger Rate Drops, But Remains Too High

Unruly Passenger Rate Drops, But Remains Too High

The rate of unruly passenger incidents on commercial flights has dropped sharply since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched its Zero Tolerance campaign but the rate remains too high, according to new data released in September 2021.

“Our work is having an impact and the trend is moving in the right direction. But we need the progress to continue. This remains a serious safety threat, and one incident is one too many,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “The FAA will continue its Zero Tolerance policy, keep its public awareness campaign going, and keep pushing and partnering with everyone in the aviation system to do more. We appreciate the tremendous work of all our partners in the airline, airport, labor, and law enforcement communities.”

As of mid-September, unruly passenger incidents were occurring approximately six times per every 10,000 flights. That’s an approximately 50 percent drop from early 2021, but it’s more than twice as high as the end of 2020. Since the FAA launched a public awareness campaign with memes and two public service announcements, the rate has fallen approximately 30 percent. Charts here

Using its full legal authority to deter this dangerous behavior, the FAA adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward unruly passengers in January 2021. Under this policy, the FAA no longer issues warning letters. Instead, it moves directly to fines, which have totaled $1.1 million to date. In addition to public service announcement videos and memes, the agency has asked airports to help educate passengers that they cannot consume alcohol on board that they purchase at restaurants and shops in the airport or that is not served by a flight attendant.

The FAA plans to host unruly-passenger working sessions with key aviation stakeholders in late September. The FAA will ask members of the aviation system to share best practices and to identify additional steps they and the U.S. government can take to reduce the unruly incident rate further.