United Customer Service Agent at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport

A new survey of airline customer service agents revealed that almost all of them had experienced verbal abuse from passengers.

The United States Government Accountability Office’s report entitled “Commercial Aviation: Information on Passenger Assaults against Airline Customer Service Agents at Airports” was released Tuesday and is available in full here.

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The survey found that of the 104 airline customer service agents surveyed, 96 respondents said passengers had verbally harassed them. Another 46 employees said a traveler had verbally threatened them.

In terms of physical confrontations, 22 customer service agents said a passenger attempted to assault them and 12 had actually been attacked, with 34 others admitting they had encountered other harmful actions.

The report also found that around 10 percent of those surveyed said passengers physically assaulted them in the past year, with almost every employee who experienced an assault reported it to airline management or airport law enforcement.

State and local laws differ on how police handle the disgruntled passengers, but the research shows a more visible presence from law enforcement at airports and more de-escalation training from airlines would result in lower attempted assault numbers.