Interior of airplane with passengers on seats

Pollyana Ventura/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.

It seems like there's a new plane travel woe every summer. In the last few years especially, it’s been a wild ride, with everything from flight attendant abuse and unruly passengers to torturous delays and cancellations. Unfortunately, passenger problems are only on the rise, according to a new analysis by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The report shows a 37% increase in unruly passenger incidents between 2021 and 2022, and one of the most common problems is somewhat surprising.


Smoking of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, and “puff devices” in the cabin or bathrooms is now one of the top non-compliance issues, according to IATA. Other non-compliance issues include failing to fasten seat belts when instructed, going over the carry-on baggage allowance, failing to store bags when required, and alcohol consumption on board.

One look at TikTok shows hundreds of videos of people sharing tips on how to get away with vaping on a plane (we won’t show that here, but trust us, it’s out there).


Needing to sneak and vape on a plane and risk going to jail is insane

♬ original sound - Dr.Destini

The IATA is calling for the aviation industry to work on a zero-tolerance approach to all types of unruly passenger behaviors. The organization suggests that more countries ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014, which allows for the prosecution of disruptive passengers. At this point, 45 nations, which is about a third of international passenger traffic, follow this protocol.

“The increasing trend of unruly passenger incidents is worrying. Passengers and crew are entitled to a safe and hassle-free experience on board. For that, passengers must comply with crew instructions,”  said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s deputy director general. “There is no excuse for not following the instructions of the crew.”

This summer is shaping up to be another busy one for travelers. Air travel is expected to be up by 11% over last year, according to the AAA travel forecast. Is it too much to ask for everyone to be on their best behavior?

“No one wants to stop people having a good time when they go on holiday—but we all have a responsibility to behave with respect for other passengers and the crew,” said Clifford.

Want more summer travel tips? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Cheapism in the News