Disruptive behaviour on flights can land you with a £5,000 fine or 2 years in prison

A little noise on flights isn’t uncommon, but bad behaviour and disruption can incur consequences.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 1:57 pm
A little noise on flights isnt uncommon, but bad behaviour and disruption can incur consequences.

Did you know that doing these things during a flight could land you with a hefty fine or even prosecution?


A little noise on flights isnt uncommon, but bad behaviour and disruption can incur consequences.

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‘Serious consequences

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), “disruptive passenger behaviour is one of the main reasons for aircraft diversions.

“Disruptive behaviour in-flight or on the ground can affect your safety and the safety of fellow passengers.

“Besides safety implications, it can have serious consequences, including civil prosecution.”

The CAA also explains that airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers that they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew or its passengers.


What counts as unacceptable behaviour on a plane?

The CAA notes that examples of unacceptable behaviour include:


Drug/alcohol intoxication

Refusal to allow security checks Disobeying safety or security instructions Threatening, abusive or insulting words Endangering the safety of aircraft or other person Acting in a disruptive manner

What punishments could you face?

The punishment for disruption both in-flight or on the ground varies depending on the severity.

“Acts of drunkenness on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 and two years in prison,” advises the CAA.

“The prison sentence for endangering the safety of an aircraft is up to five years.”


Reimbursing costs

If a disruptive passenger causes a flight to divert due to their behaviour, they may be asked to reimburse the airline with the cost of the diversion.

Diversion costs can typically range from £10,000 to £80,000, depending on both the size of the aircraft and where it diverts to.


Number of disruptive passengers

Data taken from the CAA’s Mandatory Occurrence (MOR) database shows the number of reported incidents of passenger disruption on board UK registered aircraft in a given year.   


2016: 415 number of reports

2017: 417 number of reports

2018: 413 number of reports


“We are working with airlines, airports and the Department for Transport to identify and develop new strategies that can minimise the frequency of these occurrences,” the CAA said.