A group of intoxicated passengers singing and indulging in horse play in the aisles could initially receive requests from the cabin crew for the high spirited travellers to be quiet and be seated with high spirits. However, if they fail to observe this request, the cabin crew may need to take further action and this could result in an infringement notice being issued by CASA or prosecution.
In a similar situation documented recently, the consequence of these actions resulted in the flight being diverted and the passengers in question off loaded. The captain felt these passengers might have posed a threat had the flight continued. The passengers paid a hefty penalty. They failed to reach their holiday destination and needed to book and pay for return flights on any airline that would accept them.
There are several reasons behind air rage including queues, delays, lack of information, overbooking, passenger handling at airports and a non-smoking policy on board aircraft. As a result passengers are often tired, bored, frustrated and feeling stressed. Consequently they get drunk before boarding and during the flight. Passengers should be aware that boarding an aircraft when drunk is against the law and may result in them being denied boarding. However, drunkenness is not the only form of passenger behaviour which is not tolerated on aircraft:
- offensive and disorderly conduct such as physical assault, verbal abuse or sexual harassment;
- doing an act which interferes with the crew or threatens the safety of the aircraft or people on board;
- smoking in any part of the aircraft but particularly in the toilets;
- disobeying instructions of the operator: whether given by signs or by the flight or cabin crew.
Airlines are starting to ban passengers who have been identified as being disruptive and unruly. There is talk of displaying signs in airports which warn passengers of a zero tolerance policy for unruly behaviour. Many airlines specify rules and conditions of boarding on the back of the boarding pass.
Cabin crew have the authority to restrain drunk or violent passengers. Passengers deemed unruly may be refused boarding, or the flight may be diverted to have the occupants in question off loaded.