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Lex Rock Heemstra

Lex Rock Heemstra

Human Factors Specialist,
Independent Human Factors

Unruly Passengers – De-Escalating the Situation Before it Gets Worse

Statistically, the rate of unruly passengers versus the amount of passengers annually, has been on a steady decline since 1995. However, the refusal to wear a mask due to Covid-19 regulations, seen as a Level 1 transgression (disobeying a lawful commend) has spiked the rate of reports and investigations, specifically during 2020 and 2021 and accounted for 74% of the unruly behavior reports. This has highlighted the unruly passenger syndrome.

The current worst case scenario of one disruptive passenger per 640,000 (reference: IATA, ICAO, FAA, EASA & UK CAA) means that across of the current fleet of major and regional  carriers worldwide, on average there will be one disruptive passenger per 2012 flights.

However, a disruptive passenger demands time, energy and effort, and while there may be time to defuse the situation on a long-haul flight, this is not so on short regional flights, where legal minimum cabin crew have other service and safety duties to perform to ensure a successful and safe flight.

A level 3 or 4 disruptive passenger might require physical restraint requiring 3 to 5 people to do so. Those airlines that introduced non-technical skills/human factors training to their cabin  crew, from a service, safety and security perspective, to defuse or de-escalate a potential Level 3 or 4 disruptive passenger, found that the rate of level 3 and 4 cases dropped significantly.

This presentation will provide the current legislation, worldwide regulations and statistics, on unruly/aggressive behavior. The majority of the presentation will deal with the types of training, in detail,  that Training Management can introduce to their cabin crew, including check in staff, security and gate agents, to deescalate potential unruly passenger events before they reach a worst case scenario, based on the successful implementation of such training in various major airlines.

Cabin Crew Conference
Day 2 – Wednesday 9th November 2022
Session 6 – 1115-1245