Satisfaction among air travelers fell seven points in 2023 after plummeting 22 points last year.
In addition to increasing prices, on board antics this year ranged from gross to downright scary.
From explosive diarrhea to an off-duty pilot on mushrooms, here's what ruined flights in 2023.
If you've been dreading the idea of taking a flight lately, you're not alone.
It seems no airplane these days is immune from unruly passengers or grumpy staff, but after this week's news of an off-duty pilot nabbing himself 83 felony counts of attempted murder after trying to stop a plane's engine mid-flight, the issues on board your standard passenger craft in 2023 are feeling a whole lot worse than usual.
That's the consensus among passengers, anyway: In a consumer satisfaction survey by JD Power, airline customers' favorable opinions slid an average of seven points this year, down to 791 on a 1,000-point scale. This is the second year of a significant decrease in satisfaction across the commercial aviation world, as customers reported their satisfaction plummeted 22 points the year prior.
While customers cite sky-high ticket costs that have increased as much as 25% as a primary reason flying is less favorable these days, JD Power also found customer satisfaction at airports has gone up in the same timeframe — so what's happening in the sky that's turned passengers off?
Unruly passengers ruining air travel
Looking at reports from the year, there's a pronounced trend of behavior going from bad to worse, not just among passengers but also among airline employees, which could be a driving factor behind the discontent.
Over the summer, a baffling video of a woman storming off an American Airlines plane went viral after she was filmed accusing another passenger of being "not real" and was dubbed the "crazy plane lady" in memes that circulated the internet.
In September, a Delta flight made a U-turn and returned to Atlanta, where it had departed after a "biohazard issue" happened on board, Insider previously reported. An audio clip of the incident went viral of a pilot on board being recorded describing the situation: "We've had a passenger who's had diarrhea all the way through the airplane, so they want us to come back to Atlanta."
But, far from your run-of-the-mill breakdown or filthy behavior in shared space, on-board incidents involving violence and sometimes criminal behavior have also grabbed headlines this year.
In July, a Sun Country Airlines passenger was arrested after climbing out of an emergency exit and jumping off the plane wing. A month later, a Delta passenger put a flight attendant in a choke hold and threatened to cut off her head with a piece of glass after an altercation on board.
Flight attendants and pilots are also acting up
Passengers aren't the only ones acting up, though. In September, an American Airlines flight attendant was reportedly led off the plane by police after a passenger told people there was a camera in the bathroom.
The attendant used "psychological tricks" to try to convince a teen girl there was nothing strange happening after she saw the camera, which was placed there just before she went to the restroom, her family alleged in a subsequent lawsuit.
"You think of flight attendants as authority figures, people that are there for your safety and people you can trust," the girl's mother, who spoke to Insider at the time of the incident on condition of anonymity because her daughter is a minor, said, adding: "To find out — from her perspective — that she was being targeted, and her privacy was being invaded, that's kind of a hard thing to process."
And just this week, an off-duty pilot traveling in the cockpit jump seat tried to shut down a plane's engines "by engaging the Engine Fire Handle, also known as the fire suppression system," Insider previously reported Alaska Airlines said.
"If the T-handle is fully deployed, a valve in the wing closes to shut off fuel to the engine. In this case, the quick reaction of our crew to reset the T-handles ensured engine power was not lost," the airline said.
Robert Clifford, an experienced airplane crash lawyer, told Insider the off-duty pilot would likely be jailed "for a very long time" over the incident, adding that his actions may also result in a loss of jump seat privileges for off-duty pilots and a federal re-evaluation of the "sterile cockpit" rule, which prevents any non-essential crew from being present in the cockpit for busy portions of the flights like takeoff and landing.
An FAA crackdown on in-flight foolishness
The FAA isn't just cracking down on cockpit security after all these incidents, though — they're scrutinizing passenger behavior more closely, too, even referring some cases to the FBI. Insider previously reported authorities announced they want to "aggressively" crackdown on unruly airline passengers after a spate of bad behavior, including a hoax bomb threat sent via AirDrop.
"Unruly behavior poses serious safety concerns for passengers and crew alike, which is why we are addressing this issue aggressively," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement."If you act out on an airplane, you can face criminal prosecution and fines up to $37,000 per violation."
Read the original article on Insider