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Is This the End of Worst Passengers of the Week?

Is This the End of Worst Passengers of the Week?
Jeff Edwards

Beginning on New Year’s Day, misbehaving passengers on international flights will no longer be able to count on jurisdictional grey areas to avoid the consequences of their actions. A recently ratified agreement will allow air travelers to be more easily prosecuted in the country where the flight lands rather than automatically referred to the jurisdiction where the plane is registered.

A loophole, which has in the past allowed disruptive passengers to escape serious legal consequences, will soon be closed. Last month, Nigeria became the 22nd nation to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14). Beginning on January 1st, law enforcement around the globe will have new tools to prosecute passengers who commit offenses on international flights.

“Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behavior, but the deterrent to unruly behavior is weak,” International Air Transport Association (IATA) Alexandre de Juniac said of the new treaty agreement in a statement. “About 60% of offenses go unpunished because of jurisdictional issues. MP14 strengthens the deterrent to unruly behavior by enabling prosecution in the state where the aircraft lands. The treaty is in force. But the job is not done. We encourage more states to ratify MP14 so that unruly passengers can be prosecuted according to uniform global guidelines.”

The so-called “Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft” will supplant language in the Tokyo Convention of 1963 which placed the sole authority to prosecute crimes committed on international flights with the jurisdiction where the aircraft is registered. The new agreement will, in many cases, make it easier to prosecute disruptive passengers in the jurisdiction where the flight initially lands and the bad actors are taken into custody.

The IATA, which represents the majority of commercial airlines flying today, has issued a legal opinion to help its members and government authorities to take full advantage of the new rules. The association is also encouraging carriers and regulatory agencies to utilize newly permitted “civil and administrative fines and penalties” to supplement prosecutions.

“Unruly and disruptive passenger incidents on board flights include physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instructions,” the IATA wrote in its November 28th release praising the new international agreement. “These incidents may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew.”


[Featured Image: Matthew Hurst/Flickr]

View Comments (3)


  1. jlc1978

    December 7, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Years ago I worked for a company that regularly put 100-200 people on the road per week. One of the AA’s asked us to bring toilitries to her that she would take to a local shelter.

  2. DCAFly

    December 7, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    and where will abuse FAs be prosecuted?

  3. Mr. Vker

    December 9, 2019 at 10:21 am

    There always has to be a worst passenger as its a scale of all travelers. Just like when Bezos and Gates are the only two in a room-one of them is the poor one. :D

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