Conflictive passengers: the big problem at US airports.


Driven by the pandemic and the mandate to wear masks in airports and airplanes, the number of violent incidents in the country's air terminals has grown exponentially.

To the stress that traveling by plane generates for many, now is added that it is more likely that one will run into a violent passenger, or as the authorities in the United States have called it: conflictive passengers.

Since the pandemic, this type of passengers that generate conflicts on airplanes has increased by 300% at airports such as the one in the city of Miami. According to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration, according to its acronym in English), there have been more than 4,800 cases of conflicting passengers in the country so far this year. 75% of the cases were related to the compulsory use of face masks.

Federal authorities have made it mandatory to wear masks on all public transportation in the United States. Logically, this includes airplanes. This does not depend on the airlines or the airports. It is a federal rule.

But not everyone is willing to comply. So far in 2021, there have been 365 incidents with conflicting passengers at the Miami airport, defined as violent events that require police intervention. If we compare with the 2019 figures, 97 events of this nature had been recorded in all that year.

Some of these violent events have generated headlines worldwide, such as the man who on the runway in Miami, angry on an American Airlines flight because they were forcing him to put on a mask, decided to open the emergency door and walk through the wing of the plane. Or the man who got so violent on a flight that the flight attendants tied him to the seat with packing tape. These types of incidents were not seen before the pandemic.

Given the situation, the federal authorities have decided to ban the sale of alcohol on airplanes. They have even suggested limiting the sale of liquor at air terminals. But at airports like Miami, they are trying to be proactive.

Taking into account that the holidays are approaching and that the expectation is that the number of passengers will increase exponentially ( next month travel restrictions will be lifted in 39 countries for vaccinated people and this has led to the number of plane tickets sold in Miami airport for this winter has been the maximum in its history ), they are trying to control the situation as much as possible.

They have launched a campaign reminding passengers that they can always call 911 so that the police intervene in any violent situation at the airport. When they see something out of place, they ask them to report it instead of filming it on their phones, as has happened on several occasions.

In addition, beyond safety recommendations, Miami airport authorities are reminding passengers that due to the high traffic of travelers during the holiday season, it is always advisable to arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance to international flights and two hours for domestic flights.