KLM, government and industry join to tackle unruly passenger behaviour

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KLM, the Netherlands government and the airline industry are joining hands to tackle unacceptable and unruly passenger behaviour on commercial flights.

KLM has seen a 100% increase in unruly passenger numbers this year, compared to 2019.
The airline industry and government now plan to cooperate more closely to tackle this issue.

Understanding the Scope of the Issue

Unruly passengers not only pose safety risks but also create disturbances affecting both fellow passengers and the airline crew.

Verbal aggression and, at times, physical violence have led to flight diversions and delays, impacting the overall travel experience.

Recognizing the severity of the situation, on December 14, all involved parties signed a letter of intent to enhance efforts in dealing with this pressing issue.

Photo Credit: KLM Airlines
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Raising Awareness and Enhancing Training

To tackle unruly behavior effectively, the collaborative initiative will focus on increasing passenger awareness of the consequences of their actions.

Additionally, there will be a concerted effort to better train airline staff in handling such incidents. A digital report form, introduced in May, facilitates the reporting of unruly passengers, providing staff with a streamlined process to address these concerns promptly.

Sharing No-Fly Lists for a Safer Sky

A key aspect of the collaborative effort involves exploring the possibility of sharing no-fly lists among Dutch airlines.

This step aims to prevent individuals with a history of unacceptable behavior from flying with any airline in the region.

KLM and Transavia within the KLM Group have been successfully sharing passenger data since 2022, imposing a five-year ban on misbehaving passengers.

Alarming Increase in Unruly Incidents

KLM has witnessed a staggering 100% increase in unruly passenger incidents compared to 2019. In 2023, an average of 30 unruly passengers per month were recorded, with 60% of incidents occurring on board and 40% in the departure hall.

More than half of these cases of unruly passenger behaviour involved the influence of alcohol, highlighting the need for comprehensive measures to address the root causes.

Mark Harbers, the outgoing Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management, emphasizes the importance of collective efforts to reduce these incidents. As he states, “Flying is one of the safest forms of transport. The fact that some people misbehave on aircraft to the extent that they jeopardize safety and security is unacceptable.”

Leen van Duijn, VP of KLM Security Services, echoes this sentiment, underlining the airline’s commitment to the safety and security of passengers and crew. Despite the increase in unruly passengers, the collaboration between the airline industry and government is seen as a positive step toward addressing this issue.

“Unfortunately, we have to note that the number of unruly passengers has increased sharply. What we experience in the air is a reflection of broader society. It’s therefore encouraging that this issue is being addressed jointly by the airline industry and government,” said van Diujn.

Partnering for a Safer Sky

The letter of intent was signed by key entities, including Royal Schiphol Group NV, Transavia, KLM, TUI, Corendon Dutch Airlines, the Royal Marechaussee, and the public prosecutor’s office.

Notably, the Netherlands becomes the third country in Europe to sign such a declaration, following Norway and Ireland.

The international community, through organizations like EASA and IATA, is increasingly recognizing the need to address unruly behavior on flights.

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