Japanese airlines outline what could get you kicked off a plane

Two Japanese airlines have outlined exactly what kind of behavior won’t fly in the air — and could get passengers kicked off the plane, or prevent them from boarding.  

Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have posted explicit policies around “customer harassment” on their websites in an effort to protect airline employees from being disrespected and even abused by customers. The new rules come in the wake of a wave of unruly passenger incidents both in Asia and the U.S.

Last June, a Japanese passenger on a China Airlines flight from Fukuoka to Taipei shouted at crew members for not speaking to her in her native language, the South China Morning Post reported. In the U.S., there have been 915 cases of unruly passengers, from Jan. 1, 2024 to June 9, 2024, including 106 cases of passenger disturbances due to intoxication, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

ANA, on its website, explains that it formulated the new customer harassment policy “in order to ensure that the human rights of employees and customers are mutually respected, and to create a safe and comfortable environment for all.”

What counts as harassment?

The airline outlines three broad types of behavior it says constitutes harassment of airline workers, including:

  • Behavior that that seeks to exploit a “superior” position
  • Any illegal activities, or unreasonable demands
  • Actions that harm the working environment of employees

“We consider any behavior that meets these requirements mentioned above as customer harassment,” the airline states. 

ANA also specifically lists nine types of actions that rise to the level of harassment, including hurling insults at airline staff and “acts of voyeurism.” The list is as follows:

  1. Verbal abuse, yelling, insults, discriminatory remarks, defamation
  2. Threatening or intimidating behavior
  3. Excessive demands
  4. Physical violence, property damage or other aggressive behavior
  5. Actions that disrupt business operations
  6. Unauthorized access to workspaces
  7. Deceptive behavior toward employees
  8. Actions that damage the company’s or employee’s credibility
  9. Acts of voyeurism, stalking, indecent behavior, obscene remarks or sexual harassment

ANA said it based its definitions and examples of harassment on a manual issued by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, but added that behavior that rises to the level of customer harassment is not limited to these examples. 

JAL Group’s policy on customer harassment is similar, stating that the airline “will not tolerate any verbal abuse, assault or nuisance, as we consider such behaviors to be harmful to our staff and will act accordingly to protect the safety of our employees.” Behavior JAL won’t tolerate from customers includes slander, unreasonable demands of staff, sexual harassment and more. 

Customers who violate the policies may be refused boarding, among other disciplinary measures. 

In the U.S., airlines are governed by the FAA’s zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior, implemented in January 2021 after a sharp uptick in bad behavior on airplanes. 

Under the order, unruly passengers are fined of up to $37,000 per violation, versus receiving warnings and counseling.

For fliers looking to be star passengers, the FAA has issued guidance. In a blog post, the aviation authority advises passengers to be courteous of others, respect crew members’ instructions, and if consuming alcohol, to do so in moderation. 

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