Who is in Charge Here Anyway?
Passengers Behaving Badly
A recent air rage case has gotten a lot of attention lately in the US. Three Spirit Airlines passengers on a flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the airline. The claimants alleged the carrier provided excessive alcohol and failed to protect them from injury, according to a CNN report.
In personal injury cases, there are three primary factors that come into play:
- Liability – whether the defendant (Spirit Airlines) was at fault
- Amount of damages
- Defendant’s ability to pay
In this case, factor three is a non-issue since commercial airlines are deemed to have “deep pockets”. In all reality, the focus will be to get an out of court settlement (i.e.“nuisance” payment) to make the claimants go away.
However, this case brings up more to ponder than how big of a windfall an airline passenger can get. The main point of the case is that passengers were allegedly over-served by the airline employee. So, who’s responsible for air rage caused by unruly passengers?
Legal Obligation to Care for Cargo
US federal regulation provides general support for airlines to create and enforce rules of conduct on their planes through the stipulation that they are legally obligated to care for their cargo; in this case human passengers. In an article by Mashable, the regulations state “drinks can’t be served to anyone who ‘appears’ to be intoxicated or who “has a deadly or dangerous weapon accessible to him while aboard the aircraft” (that would only apply to Air Marshals, hopefully).
When I researched Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies regarding alcohol consumption for passengers, the only specific guidelines I found were regarding pilots (thank goodness) and the amount/kind of alcohol that can be packed in luggage and/or carried onto a plane. So it’s up to the airlines to create and enforce rules to safeguard their passengers.
Today, it is up to the flight attendant to determine when a passenger has had “enough”. Unfortunately, when the passenger has had enough, it is often too late to control their behavior. Airlines need to create and enforce alcohol drink limits for their passengers before it gets to that point; including a policy to flat out cut off anyone that shows signs of being belligerent on one of their flights.
Europe is Making a Move
Traveller reports on a recent move by a Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) that has imposed a 3 drink limit for all passengers on flights within Europe. In fact, International Air Transport Association (ISTA) sanctioned a study on the subject called “The Devil in Our Mist”, the devil being the unruly passenger. As a result of the study, the ISTA called for an action to reduce the number of unruly passengers who disrupt flights through excessive alcohol consumption. However, the ISTA has not made any proposals about alcohol restrictions on flights; this bold move will still be up to the airline to define and enforce.
In regard to US airlines, if the three Spirit Airline passengers win their case, a US commercial airline will have a real economic incentive to do something about unruly passengers, not just ride out a bad behavior until the plane lands.
Read Life Rage for More Air Rage Insight
If you are interested in learning more about air rage in our society, call Timothy Dimoff 330-255-1101 to order Life Rage today! You can read more about how to cope with emotional abuse and psychological abuse caused by air rage on today’s commercial flights.