UAE moves to address unruly air passenger problems

An aircraft takes off from Dubai airport
Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed a recent move by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen deterrents against the problem of unruly passengers in flight.

The UAE intends to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14) – a move that will strengthen the global legal deterrent against unruly and disruptive passenger incidents onboard flights.

Effective from 1 May, authorities in the UAE will have the jurisdiction to manage unruly and disruptive passengers that land in the country, irrespective of where the aircraft is registered.

This resolves an existing gap in international aviation law that often results in those accused of unruly behavior from being prosecuted for their misbehavior.

The international problem with disruptive passengers

In a survey, 60% of IATA member airlines cited the lack of jurisdiction as being a key factor for why prosecutions of disruptive passenger incidents do not proceed.

In-flight incidents have been a growing problem on commercial airline flights around the world in recent years.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported a significant increase in incidents of unruly behavior on flights, including verbal and physical abuse, aggression towards crew and fellow passengers, and non-compliance with safety procedures.

Typical incidents on board flights have included physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instructions.


These incidents may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption, and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew.

There are various reasons for this increase in unruly behavior, including the consumption of alcohol or drugs, mental health issues, frustration with flight delays or cancellations, and political or social tensions.

Unruly passengers pose a serious threat to the safety and security of flights. They can disrupt the operation of the aircraft, endanger the lives of other passengers and crew members, and cause financial losses to airlines.

 In addition, unruly behavior can lead to flight diversions, delays, and cancellations, causing inconvenience to passengers and significant costs to airlines.

IATA statement

IATA welcomed the move by the United Arab Emirates in a formal statement. Kamil Al-Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice President Africa & Middle East, said: “IATA welcomes the leadership shown by the UAE in ratifying MP14.”

“Not only will this give the UAE authorities important new powers in dealing with unruly passengers that land in the country, but as a major aviation market and ICAO Council member, it will also encourage other States to ratify MP14.”

“Ensuring greater international harmonization and strengthening the legal deterrent against unruly and disruptive passengers who pose a threat to passenger and crew wellbeing and safety onboard is a priority for the entire airline industry.”


The issue of in-flight incidents involving unruly and disruptive passengers is a growing worldwide problem.

AviationSource recently reported on the rise of problematic incidents in the Indian aviation sector.

The UAE has now become the 44th State to ratify MP14 and it is estimated that more than a third of international traffic is covered by States that are parties to it.  

Important aviation markets in the Middle East region have led the way in ratifying this important treaty.

In addition to the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have ratified MP14, representing 16% of the total States that are parties.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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