Former Air Marshall Explain Why So Many People Go Crazy on Planes Today
In recent years, there has been a concerning increase in unruly passenger incidents on airplanes. According to a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), these incidents have risen by a staggering 47% globally in 2022 compared to the previous year. The United States alone has seen 250 cases of unruly passengers referred to the FBI for possible prosecution. These incidents not only pose a threat to the safety and well-being of passengers and crew but also disrupt air travel, causing delays and inconveniences for everyone involved.
Former FBI Special Agent and U.S. Air Marshal, Jonathan Gilliam, believes that part of the reason for this rise in unruly passenger behavior can be attributed to the changing landscape of air travel. Even the largest airlines have transitioned to a “no frills” model, where the focus is primarily on cost-cutting rather than providing exceptional customer service. Gilliam suggests that this shift in priorities has led to a decline in the care and attention given to passengers’ needs.
“The care for the patrons is no longer there. A lot of that occurred because they got fed up with people during [C—D]. And the other problem is a lot of people left during [C—D] that were good flight attendants, and now they have, like every other industry, they have people who just aren’t customer-service oriented.” – Jonathan Gilliam, Former FBI Special Agent and U.S. Air Marshal
Gilliam also points out that the self-centered and self-indulgent behavior seen in unruly passengers is not limited to air travel but is a reflection of a broader societal issue. He compares it to the way people treat police officers, highlighting a lack of respect and empathy.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
One incident that showcases the escalating problem of unruly passengers occurred on a Thai Smile flight from Chiang Mai International Airport to Bangkok. A passenger on the flight became upset after realizing he had left his bag behind, which contained valuable items, including money. The individual complained to the flight attendants, demanding immediate action. Eventually, the plane had to return to the terminal, causing further delays.
A Frontier Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Las Vegas had to be diverted to Denver International Airport due to a fight between two female passengers. The altercation erupted during the flight, leading to the decision to land in Denver. The two women were subsequently arrested by the Denver Police Department, and the flight was delayed by an hour.
In another incident, a Southwest Airlines flight from New Orleans to Houston was held at the terminal after an alleged drunk woman refused to leave the plane when asked to do so. The passenger, later identified as Kamaryn Gibson, was causing a disturbance and was ultimately charged with multiple offenses, including disturbing the peace and battery on a police officer.
At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, an altercation unfolded when a woman, who claimed to be pregnant, allegedly attacked a Spirit Airlines employee after being prevented from boarding a plane. The incident resulted in disorderly conduct charges for the woman involved, Que Maria Scott. The fight required the intervention of multiple individuals to break it up.
In response to this disturbing trend, airlines are left with the challenge of implementing stricter security measures and protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of their passengers and crew. This includes training flight attendants to handle unruly passengers effectively and providing support systems to address these incidents promptly.