Updated on May 16, 2024.
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Not everyone is on their best behaviour when they are on an airplane. Perhaps they are overserved and start making a scene, or maybe they just lost their temper and started yelling. Regardless of why they have become unruly, sometimes planes have to make an unscheduled stop to get them off the plane for the safety of the other passengers.

Unfortunately, this can cause delays, passengers to miss their connecting flights, and other costly inconveniences, leaving many to wonder if they can get compensation if something like this happens to them. Here’s all you need to know.

Key Takeaways

  • Unruly behavior on airplanes, such as excessive drinking or altercations, can lead to flight delays and unscheduled stops to ensure the safety of all passengers.
  • The cabin crew plays a vital role in managing disruptive situations, attempting to calm the passenger down and taking appropriate measures, including verbal warnings and physical restraint, if necessary.
  • Passengers impacted by delays caused by unruly behavior may be entitled to compensation, including free drink vouchers or other immediate gestures. Depending on the airline’s policies, disrupted travel plans may be mitigated with meals, accommodation, and alternative transportation.
  • Understanding the airline’s terms of service is essential to determine what compensation passengers are entitled to in such situations. While EC 261 does not cover unruly passenger delays, airlines may still offer compensation as a goodwill gesture.
  • European regulation EC 261, which protects passenger rights for flight delays and cancellations, does not cover disruptions caused by unruly passengers. However, passengers can still communicate with the airline’s customer service to seek appropriate compensation.

What Happens If There is an Unrly Passenger on My Flight?

The cabin crew is not just there to serve you, they are also there to make sure that everyone feels safe and secure on the flight. If there is a disturbance, then they are the first line of defense trying to diffuse the situation.

They will try to calm down the situation, trying to pacify the passenger who is making a scene. If it is an altercation between passengers, they may try to move one to another seat to provide some distance between them. If this doesn’t work, they will provide verbal warnings of potential consequences if they do not calm down.

In some cases, they may need to physically restrain the passenger. Once the plane lands, they will be detained by officials and could receive official charges and fines. Passengers can also be banned for life from traveling on that airline and/or air travel in general by being placed on a no-fly list. These are serious consequences for the person causing the issue, but what about everyone else who is impacted?

Are Passengers Entitled to Compensation for Unruly Passengers?

The cabin crew has been trained on what to do if they face unruly passengers on a flight. While they do their best to avoid this by not overserving customers on the plane, they cannot handle what happens outside the plane. Depending on the level of disruption, the other passengers may have the right to compensation.

You may be offered free drink vouchers on the plane as an immediate form of compensation. If the delay causes disruptions in your travel plans, work with the airline directly to get them back on track. They may need to provide you with meals, accommodation, and alternate transportation.

Read their terms of service to see what you are entitled to. Because these issues are outside of the airline’s control, they may not be obligated to offer you anything. However, many airlines will provide some form of compensation as a goodwill gesture. This could be travel vouchers, miles, refunds, and more.

Does EC 261 Apply to Delays Due to Unruly Passengers?

Do Air Passnegers Get Compensation If the Flight Was Diverted Due To Unruly Passenger Behaviour

Unfortunately, EC 261 will not apply to delays and cancellations caused by unruly passengers. This is because it is not within the airline’s control. This powerful law is in place to hold airlines accountable for avoidable issues, like delays due to scheduling, running late, and more.

It does not apply to flights that were delayed or cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances like weather, political unrest, airline strikes, and, in most cases, passengers causing a scene. That doesn’t mean you can’t still contact customer service and see if they can give you something to make up for your trouble.


Air passengers may be able to get compensation from their airline if they face delays or cancellations based on unruly passengers. However, they are not required to do so under EC 261. Check the terms and conditions to see what you are entitled to, and contact their customer service team to claim it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What actions can airlines take against unruly passengers?

Airlines may take various measures against unruly passengers, including verbal warnings, relocation to different seats, and, if necessary, physical restraint. Upon landing, the disruptive individual may be detained by authorities and face legal charges and fines. Airlines may also impose a ban on the passenger from future flights.

  • Are airlines required to compensate passengers for delays caused by unruly behavior?

While airlines may not be legally obligated to compensate passengers for delays caused by unruly behavior, many airlines do provide some form of compensation as a goodwill gesture to affected passengers. The extent of compensation offered may vary based on the airline’s policies and the severity of the disruption.

  • Can affected passengers claim compensation under EC 261 for unruly passenger delays?

No, EC 261 does not apply to delays caused by unruly passengers. This regulation covers issues that are within the airline’s control, such as operational failures or scheduling errors. Unruly behavior falls under extraordinary circumstances, making it exempt from EC 261 compensation.

  • How can passengers seek compensation for disrupted travel plans?

Passengers facing significant disruptions, such as missed connections or extended delays, should directly contact the airline’s customer service to explore compensation options. This may include meals, accommodation, and alternative transportation arrangements, as per the airline’s terms and conditions.

  • What should passengers do if they witness unruly behavior during a flight?

If a passenger observes unruly behavior during a flight, they should promptly notify a member of the cabin crew. The cabin crew is trained to handle such situations and will take appropriate action to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers. Reporting disruptive behavior can help prevent further escalation and potential delays.