Airlines Looking to Fine Passengers for Disrupting Flights?

Jun 2, 2014 6:12pm
GTY Virgin America TG 140602 16x9 608 Airlines Looking to Fine Passengers for Disrupting Flights?

Yanda Dwi Septian/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s not your imagination: Airlines are reporting more and more drunk and unstable passengers losing it in the air.

Recent stories include a drunk passenger who tried to break into the cockpit of a Virgin Australia flight in April to an unruly passenger in 2013 who needed to be tied to his seat with duct tape and zip ties during an Iceland Air flight from Reykjavik to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

Related: FYI! 10 things that will get you kicked off a plane.

Related: Are these the ‘worst’ airline passengers ever?

The airlines, which are meeting in Doha, Qatar, today, say they are fed up after more than 8,200 incidents were reported worldwide last year — that’s up from more than 5,200 in 2012.

For now, their solutions include intense training for flight attendants and encouraging airlines to go after problem passengers for the cost of these disruptions — as much as $200,000 each instance for diverted flights, covering passengers who miss connections, extra fuel and ground crew costs.

However, current international law makes it tough for airlines to collect from passengers who cost them so much.

“We have tricks,” said former flight attendant Heather Poole. “Their Jack [Daniels] and Coke might become a lot of Coke and very little Jack.”

Related: Airline passengers headed where buy the most booze?

Sylvester Pittman, who worked as a flight attendant for 15 years, said he’d seen it all. He writes on the industry and trains workers in customer service. He said taking away alcoholic drinks would make things worse.

“You’d have a lot more people upset,” he said. “You’d have a lot more people drinking in the airport bars.”

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