Did you know that you can view the statistics on unruly air passengers on a list at the FAA? That’s right! As a government agency, they are required to keep a score card on air travel statistics, including passengers who mess around on the airplane.
The Federal Aviation Administration – Passengers and Cargo Statistics on Unruly Passengers goes back to 1995 on this chart. According to FAA, an “unruly passenger” is one who interfers with the duties of a crewmember by assault, threat, intimidating or interference with the operation of the airplane or the duties of the flight crew. Or they break a federal or local law. These are only the incidents reported to the FAA. The list does not include security offenses, as those come under some other list.
With the passing of the FAA’s Reauthorization Bill (April 16, 2000), the FAA has the right to fine unruly passenger cases up to $25,000 per violation.
I would have thought that the number of “unruly passengers” would have dropped after September 2001. With the increase in security measures, and airline passengers acting a little more “lenient” towards all the increased security measures and precautions (“If it keeps me safe, I’ll suffer through it.”), you would think that hostility and out of control passenger levels would have dropped.
In fact, since 1995, the number has doubled. In 1995, there were 146 reported cases to the FAA, and in 2004 there were 300.
Maybe the air crew is reporting more incidents as a result of hijacking and terrorism fears, or maybe the anxiety level for passengers results in more unruly behavior. Either way, the number is growing, though still, with millions of people flying annually, 300 is still a small number of trouble makers.