Unruly Passengers Beware: ICAO Delivers Montreal Protocol 2014 to Enhance Enforcement Measures Against Unruly Passengers

This month the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) officially adopted a Protocol to amend the Tokyo Convention on offenses committed on aircrafts. The culmination of a four-year effort to modernize the Tokyo Convention, the Montreal Protocol 2014 makes key changes to improve airlines’ ability to deal with unruly passenger incidents and enhance aviation security. Some 100 governments participated in the process that led to the Protocol, which will come into force once 22 states ratify it.

The Tokyo Convention. The Tokyo Convention, which came into effect in 1969, governs what action an airline may take to address offences and other acts that occur on board an aircraft during flight. The Convention allows the aircraft commander to take reasonable measures against an unruly passenger, including restraint, to (1) protect the safety of the aircraft, passengers, and crew, (2) maintain good order and discipline on board, and (3) enable the aircraft commander to deliver the passenger to law enforcement. Article 10 of the Convention provides immunity from liability in any proceedings for actions taken in accordance with its provisions.

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