Crack­down on un­ruly pas­sen­gers on in­ter­na­tional flights starts Jan. 1

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - TRAVEL - By Hugo Martin

Pas­sen­gers who make trou­ble on in­ter­na­tional flights be­ware. An amend­ment to a global treaty will soon make it eas­ier for coun­tries to pros­e­cute pas­sen­gers on in­ter­na­tional flights who cause dis­rup­tions, de­lays or threaten the safety of the flight by tus­sling with other pas­sen­gers or flight at­ten­dants.

In­ci­dents in­volv­ing un­ruly pas­sen­gers had be­come less fre­quent but the of­fenses had be­come more se­ri­ous, ac­cord­ing to a study by an in­ter­na­tional air­line trade group two years ago. But about 60% of the on­board crimes have gone un­pun­ished, the study found.

The prob­lem stems from a 1963 agree­ment among 186 coun­tries, known as the Tokyo Con­ven­tion, that gave ju­ris­dic­tion over pros­e­cut­ing an un­ruly pas­sen­ger to the na­tion where the plane is reg­is­tered. That means that a flyer who gets drunk and bel­liger­ent on an Amer­i­can Air­lines flight to France can be pros­e­cuted only in the U.S., where Amer­i­can Air­lines is reg­is­tered, not in France, where the plane lands.

Nige­ria re­cently joined with 21 other coun­tries to rat­ify an amend­ment to the Tokyo Con­ven­tion, giv­ing the amend­ment the nec­es­sary sup­port for the change to go into ef­fect Jan. 1. The amend­ment al­lows coun­tries where the plane lands to pros­e­cute a trou­ble­maker on an in­ter­na­tional flight.

“Ev­ery­body on board is en­ti­tled to en­joy a jour­ney free from abu­sive or other un­ac­cept­able be­hav­ior,” Alexan­dre de Ju­niac, di­rec­tor gen­eral and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion, a trade group for the world’s air­lines, said in a state­ment. “But the de­ter­rent to un­ruly be­hav­ior is weak.”

In 2017, there were 8,731 in­ci­dents of un­ruly pas­sen­gers on flights op­er­ated by air­lines that are mem­bers of IATA, com­pared with 9,837 in the pre­vi­ous year.

GETTY

Changes to a global treaty make it eas­ier for coun­tries to pros­e­cute prob­lem­atic pas­sen­gers on in­ter­na­tional flights.

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