Screaming man on plane

2019 has seen many stories of naughty airline passengers go viral. From a jealous woman hitting her lover over the head with a laptop to an enraged man having to be escorted off an airplane handcuffed to a wheelchair, tourists traveling by air may have more to worry about than just passengers who have too many carry-ons or recline their seats too far.

Unruly passengers can pose a serious problem for airlines. They can delay flights, cause emergency landings and, in worst-case-scenarios, hurt other passengers or crew members. And, in all situations, they are a general nuisance to the people around them. So, here are some tips on how to deal with horrible airplane passengers.

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In most situations, rowdy airline passengers are all bark and no bite. They can possibly delay the flight or even cause the pilot to turn the plane around, but they don’t pose a physical threat to their fellow travelers. Passengers like this can include out-of-control children and adults who might have had a few too many drinks before takeoff. A pair of sound-canceling headphones and some good music will help tune them out while the flight crew decides the best course of action.

If the rowdy passenger begins to distress you or others, politely ask a flight attendant if there is anything they can do to diffuse the situation. Try to be discreet as you don’t want to further aggravate the passenger in question. Flight attendants are trained to handle these situations, so it is best for you to let them take care of it rather than take matters into your own hands.

Some situations can escalate to the point where the unruly passenger becomes confrontational. Security will usually be called to escort the passenger off of the plane either before takeoff or upon landing, but it is up to the flight attendants to keep the passenger from lashing out in the meantime.

This is where things can get tricky, as you and other passengers may want to step in to keep anyone from getting hurt. Trevor Bock, an aviation and safety consultant of over 35 years, recommends bystanders remain in their seats and allow the crew to calm the aggressive passenger. Bock has seen a number of cases where passengers have been injured for trying to intervene in a hostile situation.

“Passengers who do assault cabin crew will be restrained with flexi-cuffs, but only if the crew feels threaten[ed] by the disruptive passenger,” said Bock in an article for

Flight attendant helping passenger

If you must approach a confrontational passenger, do so only as a last resort, and keep these tips in mind:

—Stay calm

—Do not raise your voice

—Politely let the passenger know how their behavior is affecting everyone else

—It is hard for somebody to direct their anger at you if they’re agreeing with you—remind them that everyone is trying to reach their destination as smoothly and quickly as possible

—Try not to lay a hand on the passenger

The goal is to not use physical force unless absolutely necessary. The safety of everyone present should be the first priority. You can’t always prevent somebody from acting horribly on an airplane, but if you handle the situation correctly, you can at least ensure that you have as smooth a flight as possible.