There is an unruly passenger on your flight. Should they be compared?

It’s not every day that fellow passengers are asked to intervene during an in-flight crisis. But the February 9 Frontier example was not the only one that month.

A few days later, when a traveler on an American Airlines flight to DC tried to open the plane’s door, another female passenger said she heard requests for “the fat guys to come in.” ‘front of the plane’. Bystanders and crew overpowered the 50-year-old.

Disruptive behavior has reached unprecedented levels in recent years, often involving passengers who refuse to follow the federal mask mandate for transportation. As of Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration had received 1,035 reports of unruly passengers this year. Last year’s tally reached 5,981.

What should passengers do if they find themselves in the midst of disruptive behavior? Don’t overreact, experts say.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in an email that flyers should not engage unless there is an imminent danger of physical injury.

Instead, she said, they should notify flight attendants — who are trained in de-escalation techniques — by letting one know when they pass, going to the galley area or calling the call button.

“If another passenger is disruptive, flight attendants will deal with it and prefer there is no interference unless the situation turns violent,” said Jeff Price, professor of aviation management. at Metropolitan State University in Denver, in an email. “Otherwise, the involvement of other passengers before a physical altercation (or the threat of an altercation) may escalate the situation.”

Most airlines declined to answer questions from the Washington Post on the subject.

“We ask customers to follow the instructions of Southwest employees during any type of incident or event because each situation may be unique,” ​​Southwest Airlines said in a statement.

Even if a situation escalates, passengers may not need to intervene. Federal air marshals are placed on domestic and international flights, although details of their number and deployment are not published. President of the South West Air Hostesses Union demand his airline last year to demand that the government increase the number of air marshals on flights and ask them to intervene when a crew member is threatened. The Transportation Security Administration also offers self-defense training for flight attendants.

Nelson said another passenger should only intervene if asked to do so by a flight attendant. She said we could ask them to change seats.

“In extreme incidents, passengers may be asked to help restrain another passenger,” she said in her email.

Price said it might sound like a specific request to grab someone’s hands, or whatever the crew needs. In the Frontier brawl, the group eventually put zip ties around the violent passenger’s hands and bound his feet with plastic wrap.

Passengers have been intervening in such incidents for decades – sometimes with serious results. In 2000, a 19-year-old passenger who broke a southwest cockpit door died after being restrained by several passengers. Prosecutors have declined to press charges in his death, according to the New York Times. reported.

Nelson said travelers who are asked to help should be clear about how they are willing to participate.

“It’s rare that we ask for help because most people want a safe, uneventful flight and it’s a small percentage of people who cause conflict or trouble,” she said. “If you don’t want to help, let us know immediately so we can direct someone else in an emergency.”

Price said, “The only passengers who are required to do anything are those who are seated in the exit row, that they open the doors in an emergency.”

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