Every day you read another story about someone who’s had a hissy fit on a plane. The ones who don’t want to wear a mask. The ones who get into fistfights. The ones who curse out kids who are kicking their seats.
The FAA is closing in on 5,000 incidents of unruly passengers this year, and that doesn’t even include the incidents that aren’t included because flight attendants didn’t report them.
The agency has launched a Zero Tolerance campaign, has doubled fines, and even has an unruly passenger website. They say unruly passenger incidents have decreased about 50% from early in the year, but, obviously, that isn’t nearly enough.
So what else is being done?
Flight attendants are doubling down on classes for self-defense and how to de-escalate angry passengers. Delta has suggested airlines share their no-fly lists. Officials are looking into how alcohol may play into passengers’ inappropriate behavior in the skies.
Some of you might wonder why they don’t just put air marshals onto every flight to help keep the peace?
It’s a matter of price and manpower.
Using the numbers Simple Flying quoted this past July:
Alaska Airlines is currently flying about 1,100 flights per day.
American is flying 5,000.
Delta – about 4,350
Hawaiian Airlines – 205 or so.
JetBlue – 855
Southwest – 3,375
Spirit – 675
United – 3,325
So that’s a total of 17,785 flights per day. And there are roughly 3,000 air marshals out there.
You see where I’m going with this, right? We would need thousands upon thousands more people to become air marshals to even start to cover all those flights.
On top of that, the FAA says that unruly passenger incidents are currently occurring approximately six times per every 10,000 flights.
Even if we’ve increased to 20,000 flights per day since Simple Flying’s numbers were released this summer, that’s still just 12 incidents per day. Don’t get me wrong – every single one of those incidents is awful. but that’s still “only” 12 incidents out of a possible 20,000. That’s less than 1/10th of 1%.
Federal air marshals are still in use, the same as they’ve been since the early 1960s, when the program began. But they’re generally deployed for flights that have a higher potential threat level (i.e. when they’re flying to a city where the President is visiting). When just about ANY flight may or may not have an irate anti-masker or other flavors of person with air rage on it, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to have an air marshal on every single flight.
Feature Photo: usmarshals.gov
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary