• Disruptive passengers

    Are you aware of the consequences?

    Disruptive passenger behaviour is one of the main reasons for aircraft diversions. Disruptive behaviour in-flight or on the ground can affect your safety and the safety of fellow passengers. Besides safety implications, it can have serious consequences, including civil prosecution. Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers that they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew or its passengers.

    The punishment for disruption varies depending on the severity. Acts of drunkenness on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 and two years in prison. The prison sentence for endangering the safety of an aircraft is up to five years. Disruptive passengers may also be asked to reimburse the airline with the cost of the diversion. Diversion costs typically range from £10,000 - £80,000 depending on the size of the aircraft and where it diverts to.

    We are working with airlines, airports and the Department for Transport to identify and develop new strategies that can minimise the frequency of these occurrences.

    Examples of unacceptable behaviour

    • Drug/alcohol intoxication
    • Refusal to allow security checks
    • Disobeying safety or security instructions
    • Threatening, abusive or insulting words
    • Endangering the safety of aircraft or other person
    • Acting in a disruptive manner

    disruptive passengers

    Numbers of disruptive passenger reports:

    The following data is taken from the CAA’s Mandatory Occurrence (MOR) database, and is the number of reported incidents of passenger disruption on board UK registered aircraft in a given year. For more details of what constitutes an MOR, see here.         

    Year  Number of reports 
    2016 415
    2017 417
    2018 370**


    *Note: due to a change in regulations, the reporting requirements and criteria changed in 2016, leading to an increase in the number of incidents reported.    

    ** Note: the 2018 figure has been changed following a processing error. The fall in incidents between 2017 and 2018 is presumed to be largely down to a reduction in the number of commercial aircraft on the UK register.