Unruly aircraft passenger
An unruly or disruptive aircraft passenger is a passenger on a commercial aircraft whose behavior poses risk to the safety and security of crew and other passengers. With a lack of access to law enforcement while flying, flight attendants (and sometimes passengers) are charged with the responsibility to handle such passengers.
The most common cause of a passenger acting acting unruly is from intoxication. The availability of alcoholic beverages on airlines and at airports enables passengers to drink excessively before and during flights. Flight attendants have the ability to keep track of how many drinks are served to passengers while on board an aircraft, but have no way of knowing how many are consumed prior to boarding.
Other causes include the use of drugs (prescription or illegal).
Sometimes, sober passengers are disruptive by failing to obey laws and rules that must be observed or arguing with flight attendants.
Handling unruly passengers
Extremely unruly passengers who must be restrained are restrained using a variety of methods. Some airlines carry flexcuffs for this purpose. Others use seatbelts, adhesive tape, neckties, shoe laces, or whatever is available on the aircraft. While the United States does not allow passengers to actually be confined to the seat or any other part of the aircraft, and only allows their individual body parts to be restrained, other countries, such as Iceland, do allow tying an unruly passenger to the seat.
Sometimes a flight must be diverted to allow an aircraft to dispose itself of an unruly passenger as soon as possible.
In the United States, passengers who disrupt the duties of a flight crew member can face fines up to $25,000 and sometimes lengthy prison sentences. In addition, the airline can choose to ban the problem passenger from any future flights.
Unruly crew members
Less common are incidents of unruly crew members. Long hours and low pay have been seen as factors contributing to unruly behavior in staff.