Australia’s aviation industry has joined together to form a new campaign against disruptive behaviour and excessive abuse towards frontline workers onboard aircraft and in airports.
The joint campaign, dubbed “No More Carry On” has seen airlines and airports also team up with the Australian Federal Police and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The campaign looks to promote respect towards aviation workers, as borders begin to ease and passengers flock to take flights over the holiday travel season.
Around the globe, airlines and airport workers have reported increased rates of verbal and physical abuse throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly off the back of new regulations around flying, such as wearing face masks.
According to the Australian industry bodies, “hundreds of incidents” have been reported across all airlines in 2021, many of which were triggered by refusal to follow mask requirements.
“In extreme cases, crew have been threatened and physically assaulted by passengers,” the bodies said.
As part of the campaign, airports will begin displaying digital billboards in terminals reiterating the message, and a video sharing the experiences of airline crew will be shared on social media.
Australia’s major airlines, including Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Rex have signed up to a voluntary “Code of Practice on Passenger Behaviour”, which ensures a consistent approach to unruly behaviour across the country.
Key elements of the Code of Practice include:
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- Refusing to allow a customer to board, where necessary, to protect fellow passengers and crew from offensive or disruptive behaviour.
- Holding passengers who are offensive or disruptive accountable for their behaviour, including recouping costs for diversions and damage to the aircraft and imposing bans on future travel.
- Airlines and airports proactively engaging with law enforcement and CASA to support any administrative or criminal sanctions against a passenger found to have engaged in offensive or disruptive conduct.
- All airlines and airports train their employees in how to handle disruptive passengers, with a focus on de-escalation where possible. In serious cases, the AFP will be called to deal with the unruly passenger.
Penalties for unruly behaviour on aircraft include fines of up to $11,000, while threatening the safety of crew or passengers on an aircraft can incur a punishment of up to two years imprisonment.
“While the vast majority of passengers do the right thing, unfortunately as with the hospitality and retail industries, we have seen an increase in the number of people behaving badly,” said Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans.
“At airports and on aircraft, critical safety procedures must be followed. There is no room for disruptive behaviour, and we will act quickly to stop unruliness to ensure everyone remains safe.”
AFP acting assistant commissioner Specialist Protective Command Andrea Quinn said: “This initiative aims to educate those working in and travelling through major airports about what behaviour is appropriate. The AFP has zero tolerance for any dangerous or antisocial behaviour and works tirelessly to ensure the safety of the travelling community.
“So as you head off on a well-deserved break these holidays – please remember – the silly season does not extend to behaviour in airports.”
CEO and director of safety at CASA, Pip Spence said, “CASA strongly supports the ‘No More Carry On’ campaign. We are pleased to have been involved in this important safety initiative.
“Passengers need to understand that bad behaviour on an aircraft can put safety at risk. It can disrupt the important safety duties of aircraft crew members, cause distractions during critical phases of flight and jeopardise the safety of other passengers.
“Under our aviation safety regulations, substantial penalties can be imposed for offensive or disorderly behaviour on board an aircraft and for failing to comply with any safety-related instructions.”
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