Airline Crews Physically Restraining More Unruly Passengers

Statistics released this week show a 50 percent spike in travelers forcibly detained for actions including attempts to get into cockpits.

Inflight service in a plane
Roland Weihrauch—Roland Weihrauch/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The skies are getting less friendly.

Serious episodes involving intoxicated and/or threatening airline passengers are on the rise, and airline crews are increasingly having to resort to physically constraining more of them.

That's according to an annual tally released Tuesday by the International Air Transport Association, which shows 169 passengers were physically restrained last year, up from 113 in 2015. 

The count of incidents involving unruly travelers has increased in recent years, with the IATA previously saying that carriers are having to teach crews on how to deal with physical and verbal abuse. 

Overall, reported incidents declined nearly 10 percent in 2016 to 9,837, but the number viewed as higher risk rose from the previous year, the association said.

The IATA's report had an incident reported for every 1,434 flights in 2015, with 12 percent of those incidents including physical assault, up from 11 percent the year before. Roughly a third of the cases, or 3,288, were related to passengers being intoxicated, 444 that escalated physically.

More than half, or 54 percent, of the violations of safety-regulations involved smoking onboard, 34 percent had to do with regulations such as turning off electronic devices and 14 percent dealt with not complying with seat belt signs, the IATA said.