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Until 10 years ago, most people were unaware that incidents of in-flight violence and disruptive behavior had occurred aboard commercial aircraft. However, airline employees had long been aware of incidents regarding problem passengers and the inherent safety threat posed by violent behavior aboard airborne airplanes.

In 1997, the Airline Pilot's Association discussed the issue at the first International Conference on Disruptive Passengers. The conference was attended by more than 200 people from diverse organizations, and the intent of the meeting was to use directed discussions to gain a better understanding of the problem and to determine how to best deal with the issue. The participants cited the causes of incidents of disruptive behavior as follows:

  • 25%, alcohol intoxication
  • 16%, seat assignments
  • 12%, hostile, abusive, or threatening behavior
  • 10%, tobacco issues
  • 9%, ...
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