Australia’s Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) is demanding that the government set up a register of disruptive passengers banned from airlines.
The name of anyone who assaults cabin crew or other passengers should be placed on the register to ensure that offenders banned by one airline do not travel on other airlines, putting other crew and passengers at risk, the union insists.
The call follows reports of an incident on a Gold Coast-bound Jetstar flight last Thursday night, involving a drunken male passenger who allegedly groped a female flight attendant. The incident resulted in the passenger being arrested and Jetstar and Qantas placing the passenger on its No Fly List.
The incident is believed to have involved “bottom pinching”.
The midair drama ended with passengers stranded on the tarmac and the Australian Federal Police turning out at Gold Coast Airport and escorting a 39-year-old passenger off the flight. Reports said the man appeared to be intoxicated.
Jetstar refused to confirm reports the crew member was “pinched on the bum” on the flight from Melbourne but confirmed a “disruptive passenger” was dealt with.
A Jetstar spokesman told the Gold Coast Bulletin the passenger had been placed on the Qantas Group’s No Fly List.
“This means the passenger cannot travel on Jetstar or Qantas services for at least the next two years.”
That’s not good enough for the TWU, which represents workers across the aviation industry, including thousands of cabin crew.
“There is nothing to stop this disruptive passenger booking a flight with Virgin Australia today and assaulting a worker on that flight,” TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon pointed out.
“This is an unacceptable and avoidable risk to workers. What we want is for the government to administer a register ensuring this cannot happen.”
The TWU says workers are entitled to be safe. “Passengers who have no regard for the right of cabin crew to respect and dignity should not just be banned by one airline – they should be banned from flying,” Sheldon said.
Airlines in the UK are also seeking ways to ban drunks and disruptors from flying – not just with one airline, but with the lot.
Apart from fighting and trying to open doors, all kinds of disreputable behaviour is happening in the skies.
On another Jetstar flight to the Gold Coast earlier this year (this one from Japan), an unruly Japanese male passenger groped the woman sitting next to him (an Australian stranger) “in a sexual manner” and then began viewing pornographic material and masturbating in his seat.
The man, who had been drinking spirits, was arrested on landing and charged with lewd conduct. Such cases seem to be becoming more frequent and cabin crew – and other passengers – have had enough.
Written by Peter Needham