Dartford MP Gareth Johnson today tabled an amendment to the Sentencing Bill intended to close a loophole in the law.  

Civil Aviation Authority figures show that people behaving in a disruptive manner during a flight is an increasing problem. Under the current aviation law, behaving in an abusive or threatening manner towards airline crew during flight allows for a prison sentence to be imposed only where that person is drunk.  Unless alcohol is involved in the incident, current aviation law does not allow for someone who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards airline crew to receive a custodial sentence.    

With the number of disruptive passenger incidents growing, Mr Johnson has proposed a change to the law, meaning that the existing offence of ‘Acting in a disruptive manner in an aircraft’ would carry the risk of a custodial sentence, rather than just a fine.  

He said: “This amendment is intended to bring the sentencing for offences involving threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards airline crew in line with the maximum sentence available for being drunk on an aircraft. This will allow custodial sentences to be imposed where alcohol may not be involved in the passenger’s behaviour.  

“The latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show that incidents of disruptive behaviour have continued to rise in recent years.  

“Last year had the highest number recorded with 1,180 incidents, where cabin crew  experienced issues with intoxicated, violent, or unruly passengers.  

“Not all incidents are alcohol related and this amendment will ensure that people who behave disruptively without alcohol will face the same penalty as those who are intoxicated.”