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Air-Rage Abuses on the Rise -- and Most Culprits Are Stone Sober

  • More than 10 percent of cases involve physical attacks
  • IATA asks governments to ratify deal closing legal loopholes

Instances of air rage on commercial flights increased again last year, and alcohol and drugs were involved in less than a quarter of cases, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Some 10,854 incidents were reported to IATA by its member airlines in 2015, equating to one every 1,205 flights. That’s up from 9,316 incidents, or one every 1,282 flights, the previous year, the industry group said Wednesday.

The majority of cases involved verbal abuse, failure to follow lawful crew instructions and other forms of anti-social behavior, while 11 percent featured physical aggression toward passengers or crew, or damage to the aircraft.

Intoxication was identified as a factor in 23 percent of cases, and in most instances alcohol was consumed prior to boarding or from a personal supply rather than bought -- or handed out -- on the plane.

Among high-profile figures involved in airborne incidents in 2015 was British fashion model Kate Moss, who was met by U.K. police after an EasyJet Plc flight from Turkey following an altercation reportedly over food. Conrad Hilton, heir to the Hilton family fortune, appeared in court last year over his involvement in disruption on a British Airways London-Los Angeles flight.

IATA, which represents 265 airlines accounting for 83 percent of global traffic, said more governments need to ratify the 2014 Montreal Protocol, aimed at closing loopholes in international legal accords concerning unruly passengers. Only six nations have so far signed up.

— With assistance by Benjamin D Katz

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