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What to do when sitting next to an unruly passenger

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2023 | Personal injury

Flying by plane is among the safest modes of transportation, yet many passengers cannot shake off the feeling that something might happen. It is not without cause. Airlines have reported that unruly passengers and their bad behavior continue to cause trouble midflight. If the flight crew does not intervene, these rowdy individuals may hurt other passengers.

Though the number of disruptive passenger incidents has decreased since 2021, any misbehaving passenger can still endanger the safety of others onboard.

Don’t take matters into your own hands

Unless they have purchased the surrounding seats, passengers have little control over who sits next to them on the plane. A stranger who seems to be like any other traveler may later turn hostile and violent. Among the reasons for misbehavior include an inability to follow the rules, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs and stress.

Those sitting close to a misbehaving passenger should remain cool and avoid mirroring that passenger’s behavior. Practicing de-escalation tactics could help diffuse a potentially violent situation. This may involve ignoring the passenger or responding only in a calm and polite manner.

Furthermore, cabin crew are trained in de-escalation techniques and can control the situation better than most travelers. If someone is uncomfortable due to a misbehaving passenger, that person should discreetly request help from a flight attendant. They can use eye contact to signal for help or excuse themselves to use the restroom to get an opportunity to talk to the cabin crew.

When someone grows enraged, they can develop tunnel vision and become violent. Therefore, it is crucial for travelers to distance themselves from unruly passengers when they can.

Are airlines liable for injuries caused by other passengers?

Airlines and their cabin crew, including pilots and flight attendants, have a duty of care to passengers. It is their responsibility to keep passengers safe by addressing any known hazards. If they fail to deal with an unruly passenger and that individual injures someone on board, the victim could hold the airline liable.

Nevertheless, all travelers should act responsibly. Flights can be difficult and stressful for many people. Simple actions like following rules, sitting in the right seats and treating one another with respect can help ensure a safe journey.