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Number of Disruptive Passengers Is on the Decline

Despite the attention problem passengers receive in news reports and on social media, the FAA reports the number of passengers causing problems has actually decreased in recent years.

There seems to be no end to a misbehaving passenger’s ability to find new and more bizarre ways to disrupt commercial airline flights. Cautionary tales of passengers duct taped to their seats or throwing kicking-and-screaming temper tantrums in the aisle never fail to capture the public’s attention.

While there is no shortage of these admittedly entertaining incidents, according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports, the number of disruptive passengers is actually on the decline. The agency reports that there were only 99 incidents involving disruptive passengers on U.S. flights in 2015 — that’s down from a high of 310 seriously misbehaving flyers in 2004. As of April of this year, the FAA has reports of just nine incidents of passengers disrupting flights. In fact, FAA data shows a steady downwards trajectory in the number of incidents involving problem passengers.

The FAA only records incidents of disruptive passengers if a crew member files a report with the agency. Flight attendants and pilots are encouraged, but not required to notify the FAA if a passenger interferes with a crew member’s ability to perform their duties. The FAA numbers do not include incidents involving security violations which fall under the purview of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Social media will very likely still cheer when a movie star makes a spectacle of herself on a Tinsel Town-bound flight. News outlets will always find a place for a piece about a passenger relieving themselves on the wrong side of the lavatory door and we will all still get a little satisfaction from stories about entitled and self-important flyers who are knocked down a few pegs. According to the statistics, however, these sorts of in-flight sideshows are becoming very much the exception rather than the rule.

Related: FlyerTalk’s Worst Passenger of the Week

[Photo: Getty]

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