Front Page: Traficom
Front Page: Traficom

Numbers of unruly air passengers higher than in previous years – please do not be part of the trend

Smoking during a flight, verbal abuse, excessive intoxication, ignoring the instructions of the cabin crew – the unruly behaviour of air passengers has been increasing in recent years. At worst, unruly passengers can endanger a flight and the safety of other passengers. Because of this, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom would like to remind air passengers of their own responsibilities during flights. Unruly behaviour can result in a fine, a demand for compensation from the airline or a travel ban.

In 2021, reports of unruly air passengers in Finland and on Finnish aircraft more than doubled from the previous year. In 2022, reports of unruly behaviour remained elevated, and it seems that the situation will not be improving in 2023. The same trend has been noted internationally as well. 

Reports of unruly passengers in Finland or aboard Finnish aircrafts

“Every passenger is responsible for their own behaviour at the airport and during a flight and for the potential consequences of their behaviour. Unruly behaviour is not acceptable. Following the airline’s safety instructions and cabin rules is essential for ensuring a smooth and safe flight,” emphasises Traficom’s Director responsible for aviation Jari Pöntinen. 

The most common forms of unruly behaviour during a flight are verbal abuse, excessive intoxication and smoking. The next most common form of unruly behaviour is ignoring the instructions of the cabin crew, including ignoring the seatbelt sign, ignoring provided safety instructions and orders and tampering with safety equipment.  

Consequences can include fines, claims for compensation or travel bans 

At worst, unruly passengers can endanger a flight and the safety of other passengers. Because of this, cabin crew members are authorised to take action to maintain order during a flight. This can mean reporting unruly behaviour to the police, restricting the movement of an unruly passenger, making an additional stopover to remove an unruly passenger or taking other necessary actions in order to ensure the safety of the flight. 

“Unruly passengers do not usually understand how significant the economic consequences of their behaviour can be for the airline if the flight is delayed, for example. Delays can result in the airline having to pay compensation to other passengers, reschedule connecting flights, rearrange crew working times and so on,” says Pöntinen. 

For the unruly passengers themselves, consequences can include legal consequences, such as fines or even imprisonment, or economic ones, such as claims for compensation from the airline for caused delays or damage. Airlines can also impose travel bans on unruly passengers. 

Follow the cabin crew’s instructions and make sure that your children behave as well 

To ensure a smooth flight free of disruptions, remember the following: 

  • Arrive on time. Reserve enough time for security screening, checking in and finding the right gate. This way you can also avoid unnecessary stress. 
  • Follow the cabin crew’s instructions and safety rules, such as instructions concerning the use of seatbelts. 
  • Watch the cabin crew’s in-flight safety demonstration and read the safety instructions provided in the back of the seat in front of you. 
  • Leave your seat only when you are allowed to do so. 
  • Make sure that your children follow the provided instructions as well.  
  • If you decide to consume alcohol, do so in moderation.  
  • Keep in mind that smoking is prohibited on planes. Smoking in the toilet of a plane poses a risk of fire, which can have serious consequences. 
  • Take your fellow passengers and the cabin crew into consideration. 
  • Do not make jokes about bombs, for example. The cabin crew are required to react to each situation as if it were real. 

Further information

Traficom’s situation report regarding unruly passengers (External link) (in Finnish)  

Jari Pöntinen, Director, , tel. +358 29 534 6071