Although numbers are down from 2021 records, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says that the number of unruly passengers in U.S. skies is still at an “unacceptable” level.
Disruptive Passenger Rates Drop In 2022, But Still Too High Says Buttigieg
A new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report notes that the rate of unruly passengers has sharply declined in 2022. While that number peaked at 6.9 incidents per 10,000 flights in 2021, it has dropped to 3.8 incidents per 10,000 flights in 2022.
Speaking to Yahoo! News, Buttigieg addressed the falling numbers, while still lamenting that numbers are are far too high.
“We’re pleased to see improvement, but it hasn’t gone far enough in terms of ending the disruptive behavior that we’ve seen in our skies. And that’s just one example of a source of pressure and strain on our flying workforce.”
Headline-grabbing incidents are indeed down, but disruptions continue. Yesterday we discussed a woman who ridiculously invoked Rosa Parks and Anne Frank in refusing to wear a mask on Southwest Airlines. She was removed from the flight and banned from the airline after her refusal to put on a mask and then leave the aircraft forced Southwest to delay the flight and disembark all other passengers.
The federal mask mandate onboard public transportation, including commercial airlines, is expected to expire on April 18, 2022. Even though all U.S. airlines enacted obligatory mask polices before the federal mandate was introduced, airlines are expected to lift mandatory masks rules immediately.
Muted objections from flight attendant unions further reinforce this coming policy change. Flight attendants have often been placed in the difficult position of enforcing the federal mask mandate, which most view as a two-edged sword. While masks offer some protection to flight attendants interacting with hundreds of passengers at a time, the stress of enforcing mask rules when many passengers are opposed to it is taxing. It does not help that nearly all jurisdictions in the USA have lifted mandatory masking, creating a unique environment on airplanes that has led to confusion and frustration for flight attendants and passengers alike.
The good news: the number of disruptions onboard U.S. commercial flights has precipitously dropped. Even so, as Secretary Buttigieg notes, the rate is still unacceptably high. The lifting of the federal mask mandate in 11 days should help to further alleviate the issue.
image: Gage Skidmore