Final warning notices are to be issued to disruptive passengers in the latest British Airways initiative to combat the phenomenon dubbed ‘air rage’.
The notices, which warn offenders that they face arrest on touch down unless they cease their unacceptable behaviour, will be trialled across the carrier’s worldwide network from 1 September.
The crack down triggered by a 400 per cent rise in air rage incidents globally over the last three years, is specifically targeted at drunk and abusive passengers and others breaking the airline’s worldwide smoking ban.
Handed to disruptive passengers by senior cabin crew staff, the notices also warn recipients that they will be liable for diversion costs if their behaviour forces the captain to divert the flight to the nearest airport.
David Hyde, Director of Safety, Security and Environment, said: “We hope the ‘yellow card’ system will prove the ultimate deterrent which, if ignored, can be used in court to ensure a successful prosecution.
“Cabin crew are usually the first in the firing line when it comes to dealing with air rage but they are certainly not alone when it comes to tackling it. They have the weight of the whole airline behind them.”
The latest initiative ensures that the airline, a pioneer in the battle against disruptive passengers since its Chief Executive Bob Ayling sent a letter to the world’s police forces in 1995 pledging support for criminal prosecutions against offenders, is among the best equipped to handle unruly passengers.
Guidelines now in place actively encourage air crew - who last year dealt with more than 260 disruptive passengers - to report incidents to the police by providing free legal advice and ensuring that time spent giving statements and attending subsequent court cases is considered duty time.
The guidelines also clearly state that ground staff and crew have the power to prevent drunken passengers from boarding flights and can refuse to serve alcohol to others on board who are intoxicated or believed to be under the influence of drugs.