Passengers at Swiss airports have never been so rude, report finds

Passengers at Swiss airports have never been so rude, report finds

A new report by Watson has found that airlines flying out of airports in Switzerland have never seen such poor behaviour from passengers. Most major Swiss airlines reported a significant rise in the number of “unruly passengers” on their flights in 2022, with the causes ranging from ignorance to drunkenness.

Number of unruly passengers in Switzerland doubled in 2022

According to the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), the number of badly behaved passengers on Swiss airlines rose sharply in 2022. Last year, 1.340 cases of unruly passengers at airports in Zurich, Basel and Geneva were reported to the authorities and emergency services - twice as many as the year before.

While this is around the same level as in 2019, the FOCA noted that there were far fewer flights in 2022, meaning the proportion of unruly passengers is the worst it has ever been. SWISS, Edelweiss Airways, Chair and Easyjet Switzerland have all been affected by the rise.

Most unruly passengers unhappy with COVID mask requirement

Speaking to Watson, FOCA spokesperson Christian Schubert explained that most incidents were related to mask-mandate rules on airlines during the COVID pandemic. During the first few months of the year, many passengers refused to accept mask rules on certain airlines, especially since many had already dropped the requirement.

Refusal to comply with aircrew instructions was the second most common passenger offence, followed by verbal abuse, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking in the aircraft toilets. While rare, the FOCA also noted several cases of physical assault where the police were called.

Abuse towards cabin crew nothing new, union notes

"For some passengers, it didn't take much to make them lose their temper," noted Jörg Berlinger, spokesperson for the Swiss Kapers cabin crew union. He added that COVID regulations in early 2022, followed by excessive flight disruption in the summer - as seen most vividly at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport - meant that passengers were more stressed than usual.

However, while outside sources had a part to play, Berlinger said that rude behaviour towards cabin crew remains a sad “fact”. SWISS spokesperson Karin Montani said that they were aware of the problem and were conducting regular training with their workers to make sure incidents are reported and contained.

Image: / Michael Derrer Fuchs

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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