Friday night was a rough night at Miami International Airport (MIA) for some passengers and airport personnel. An unruly passenger caused a disturbance at gate D23 that turned from a very vocal outburst to a physical one. Bringing widespread condemnation from industry leaders, police officers assisted on the scene with taming the situation. However, reports of unruly passengers are still at some of their highest levels in recent history, and this latest example shows that unruly passengers are still out there.
Unruly passenger causes a disruption in Miami
On Friday night, an unruly passenger caused a disturbance at gate D23. Video widely circulated across social media. Note that there is some offensive language in the videos:
Last night at Miami Int’l Airport. Another FL anti-masker covidiot. (Strong language). pic.twitter.com/kO18bBFPTb
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) August 28, 2021
The incident appears to start over masks. The passenger in question starts to become verbally aggressive towards the people in the gate area. The incident soon escalates, with the passenger becoming physically aggressive. This includes employees in the area as well as some inanimate objects in the gate. Reports do not indicate that other employees were injured during the incident, though it surely must have been a jarring event on a Friday night.
Another video seems to show a uniformed security officer passing through the area.
— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) August 28, 2021
The incident has caused a fair bit of uproar in a year marked by a sharp rise in unruly passenger complaints. Many on social media criticized the seeming lack of response from security personnel. However, the video from the incident only shows about a minute or two of what went down.
The Miami-Dade Police Department responded to the incident on social media. The police department stated that the incident “involved a military veteran in crisis.” According to the police, the passenger in question was transported to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation.
One of the general tactics while awaiting the arrival of security personnel includes de-escalation. However, those strategies may not always work. It is hard to judge this incident just from the few videos on social media, but it is clear there was a breakdown in communication at some point.
We continue to stand firm with @MiamiDadePD in protecting the security/safety of all areas in the airport. @FAANews reported unruly behavior incidents are to more than 3,800 in ‘21. We don’t tolerate this behavior at MIA. Police responded & apprehended the passenger.
— Miami Int'l Airport (@iflymia) August 28, 2021
Miami has been a popular destination for leisure travelers. As a result, it is one airport that has seen a sizable share of unruly passengers. Many airlines have beefed up capacity to the airport, and passengers are heading to South Florida for access to beaches, culture, a vibrant food scene, and more.
Unruly passenger reports are up
Miami has seen its fair share of unruly passenger incidents. A Frontier Airlines aircraft bound for Miami faced an inflight incident with a passenger who became verbally and physically abusive towards crew and passengers just a few weeks ago. This led to the airport dispatching security personnel to greet the flight on arrival.
In July, a security incident required an American Airlines flight to be met with security after arriving in Miami. Just a few weeks before then, a fight broke out at check-in desks in Miami. In April, a passenger was arrested after a gate brawl in Miami.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken a significant stand against unruly passengers. This includes pushing heavy fines and running a public relations campaign to raise awareness of the penalties for disrupting flight or while on the ground.
To date, the FAA has put forward over $1 million in fines against unruly passengers. While each incident goes under investigation, there are plenty of unruly passenger cases out there. The FAA is likely to continue putting forward fines that can end up in the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the offense.
In addition to those fines, unruly passengers may find themselves on an airline’s no-fly list. Since the start of the crisis, airlines have placed passengers on their internal no-fly list if they do not comply with the airline and federal mandates around masks.
There are multiple reasons for the recent spike in unruly passenger incidents. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian stated the following when asked about unruly passengers on the airline’s second-quarter earnings call:
“I think the bigger challenge is that we’ve got a lot of individuals that have been impacted; their emotional wellbeing had been impacted during the pandemic. And as people are coming back out into society you see challenges in all walks of life, not just in our industry. You see it happening in other places as well in society.”
There will be a lot of post-mortem on what led to the rise in unruly passenger reports. However, there is little doubt that the issues are multi-faceted and will need plenty of analysis.
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The Do’s and Don’ts of air travel
First and foremost, passengers who fly in 2021 in the United States are required to wear a face-covering when flying. This is a federal mandate, and refusing to comply can lead to the removal of passengers from an aircraft or denial of boarding. Airlines are strictly enforcing this mandate.
When traveling, do wear an accepted face covering. Even if you do not agree with the policy, airline employees do not make the policy and are enforcing it. As it is a federal mandate, all passenger carriers must adhere to the TSA’s requirement. Do not engage in physical or verbal assault on airline crews or other employees.
Do pack some extra patience. It is not an easy time to work for an airline. Given the ongoing labor shortages in the airline industry, many employees are working with a significantly increased number of travelers without having the same level of support in terms of numbers as they had pre-crisis.
Do not drink your own alcohol onboard the aircraft. This is against FAA regulations and will lead to penalties. Also, monitor your alcohol intake preflight. Many of the issues with unruly passengers have involved a passenger who was under the influence of alcohol.
Were you in Miami on Friday? What do you make of the recent rise in unruly passengers? Let us know in the comments!