AFP warning over passenger ‘air rage’ at Australian airports

The AFP is warning passengers that offensive, violent and disruptive behaviour, including incidents of ‘air-rage’ will not be tolerated in the air or on the ground, as passenger numbers increase during the busy school holiday travel period.

The passenger behaviour warning comes as AFP officers increase patrols across Australian airports as part of the school holiday travel period, ensuring all passengers safely depart and arrive at their travel destinations.

In the past seven months, the AFP has responded to 748 incidents relating to public disturbances, intoxication and offensive behaviour at its airports.

In addition, AFP officers have reported 746 incidents related to passengers carrying prohibited items, seizing potential weapons including credit card knives and ammunition rounds concealed by passengers.

AFP officers have also reported a trend of passengers creating public disturbances resulting in ‘air-rage’ as a result of missed flights, travel delays and baggage issues, along with incidents of violent behaviour outside of terminals involving disputes over taxis or rideshare vehicles.

AFP Commander Peter Bodel said the AFP was committed to supporting airport staff and ensuring all travellers experience a safe journey from their departure through to their arrival at their destination.

“Airport staff are trained to streamline security processes and make sure everyone has a safe flight. It is disappointing when a small number of passengers show violent or abusive behaviour towards people who are trying to do their jobs, so we are urging passengers to do the right thing.”

Commander Bodel acknowledged the critical role the public played in working with police to keep the community safe, including in the aviation environment.

“We encourage passengers and airport staff to revisit Airport Watch and know the signs when something is not right,” Commander Bodel said.

“We are calling on the travelling public to keep their eyes and ears open as they embark on their travels not only these school holidays, but anytime they are heading to the airport.”

From March – September 2022, the AFP recorded incidents at all major airports relating to:

• Carrying prohibited items

• Intoxication or offensive behaviour

• Public disturbance

• Incidents relating to assault

• Smoking in non-permitted areas

Airport Watch complements the AFP’s existing capabilities, which include community policing and counter-terrorism first response capability, air security officers, joint intelligence teams and bomb appraisal officers, along with firearms and explosives detection canines.

The maximum penalty for unruly behaviour on an aircraft is a $9000 fine (Section 256AA Civil Aviation Regulations -1988) and for interfering with crew or aircraft is 2 years’ imprisonment (Section 24 Civil Aviation Act 1988).

If you require a police presence at an airport, or wish to report an incident or provide information, please call the AFP’s Airport Watch on 131 AFP (131 237).

Incidents at Australian airports:

Offence

Melbourne

Sydney

Brisbane

Perth

Adelaide

Gold Coast

Cairns

Canberra

Darwin

Carrying prohibited items

218

184

138

75

60

43

6

14

8

Intoxication or offensive behavior

30

36

18

1

2

5

2

4

22

Public disturbance

195

167

61

72

52

50

5

8

18

Incidents relating to assault

18

17

4

6

1

7

0

2

3

Smoking in non-permitted areas

12

42

8

5

3

11

2

6

1

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