How Often Do People Get Kicked Off Of Airplanes?

Air travel is a popular mode of transportation.
Air travel is a popular mode of transportation.

Recent media reports have shown how passengers have been kicked off of airplanes, sometimes in rather inhumane ways, allegedly due to varied reasons ranging from intoxication to religious inclinations. These acts have been given the spotlight by leading media and have caused the public to assume that such acts are a normal occurrence.

How Often Do People Get Kicked Off Of Airplanes?

Recent Incidents

On May 10th, 2017, there was a CNN report about a man that was forcibly ejected from a United Airlines flight for allegedly refusing to give up his seat. The news report also featured a short video clip showing the ugly incident where the man appeared to be dragged by his legs and arms amid loud protests from other passengers who took videos and photos of the incident. The incident tarnished the reputation of the airline which had to take disciplinary action on some of its staff. Another recent incident that was reported by many media stations occurred on April 27th, 2017 where a young man from Wisconsin was ejected from a Delta Air Lines flight after he defied instructions from the crew and rushed to use the bathroom while the airplane was taxiing. A rather controversial incident happened in April 2016 when a political science graduate from Berkley was asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after a fellow passenger overheard him speaking in Arabic over the phone. After he was removed, the 26-year-old was subjected to intense questioning by security officers at the airport.

Crew Versus Passenger Liability

The usual understanding is that the members of the flight crew are guilty of in-flight incidents and the blame is cast on them. While this argument has some truth in it, the passengers are not as innocent as the media usually portrays. According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration, the majority of the cases involving passengers being ejected from flights are attributed to “unruly passengers.” The data which has been recorded from 1995 also shows that these incidents are not as common as the general public believes. In the 22 years that the data has been registered, the annual average number of incidents is below 300, an impressive figure considering the number of flights conducted each year in the United States is in the millions. According to the Federal Aviation Administration 22-year statistics, the year which observed the highest number of “unruly passenger” incidents was 2004 where 310 incidents were recorded while 2016 had the lowest incidents numbering 92 in total. However, the statistics are only a representation of reported incidents with the action of reporting such incidents being at the discretion of the crew members.

Implications of Passenger Ejection From Flights

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, incidents where passengers are ejected range from minor incidents whose repercussion is payment of fines to serious incidents which lead to offenders being prosecuted with criminal charges. However, the controversial incidents which catch the attention of the media, especially those which are seen as the violation of the rights of passengers, have further reaching implications with the airline’s reputation being tarnished which typically causes a decline in passenger numbers and ultimately a decline in realized profits.

How Often Do People Get Kick Off Of Airplanes?

RankYearTotal of Unruly Passengers Report to the FAA
2320179 (as of April 5, 2017)

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