Avatar photo

By Marizka Coetzer


Sins in the sky are nothing unusual to aviators

It was recently reported that airlines in the United States have experienced an unprecedented rise in bad behaviour onboard.

Unruly passengers and overly friendly advances to cabin crew are not new to aviators.

However, the wages of sin in the sky are harsh, as it endangers everyone’s safety on board.

It was recently reported that airlines in the United States have experienced an unprecedented rise in bad behaviour onboard.

The Federal Aviation Administration adopted a zero-tolerance policy in January last year and has since issued a reported $7 million (about R113.4 million) in fines to unruly travellers.

The Civil Aviation Authority in the United Kingdom cites negative passenger behaviour as one of the top reasons for flight diversions.

Punishment in the UK can be up to £50 000 (about R995 000) or two years behind bars.

Commercial manager for charter company Star Air Cargo and airline pilot Chantel Annear said flight deck and cabin crew are specifically trained to manage disruptive passengers.

“There has been particular emphasis placed on disruption as the added stress and anxiety caused by more than two years of pandemic has taken its toll,” she said.

“In South Africa, airlines do not tolerate any form of negative behaviour. On a flight, the captain is responsible for the carriage of hundreds of passengers and will act immediately against anyone compromising the safety and wellness of passengers.”

Annear added that aircraft have the equipment to restrain anyone interfering with the operation of a flight and arrests will be made at the port of landing.

ALSO READ: Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies malicious damage case postponed as NPA gathers more evidence

A commander will normally radio ahead and alert authorities of any disruptive activity on board.

Cabin crew are from time to time subjected to incidents of harassment and not just from unruly or inebriated passengers.

Annear said a passenger was recently offloaded after pinching a staff member’s buttocks repeatedly.

And that’s just one of the instances cabin crew must endure.

The South African Cabin Crew Association’s Zazi Nsibanyoni-Anyiam said the most common transgression is smoking on board.

“There are many instances of people breaking the no-smoking laws or people are intoxicated and then become disruptive,” she said.

“Cabin crew have been trained on how to handcuff a passenger safely and are thoroughly trained on how to handle disruptive passengers or when they are sexually harassed on board flights.”

Read more on these topics

airline aviation violence