TORONTO — Duct tape has many uses but hog-tying out-of-control air passengers to their seats is not one of them.
Following a string of recent incidents on airlines during which duct tape was used to restrain badly behaved passengers, United Airlines issued a memo to its employees last week to remind them that designated items onboard may be used in difficult situations and that “alternative measures such as tape should never be used.”
When dealing with unruly passenger behaviour, Senior Vice President of Inflight Services John Slate encouraged crew members to “follow your regular de-escalation and training process and always use your best judgement.” He also suggested the “huddle process,” which involved discussing the situation with the Captain, Customer Service Representative and Ground Security Coordinator for evaluations and solutions.”
While United’s duct tape policy is not new, as one United source tells PEOPLE, it is gaining newfound attention thanks to recent headlines. Earlier this month, a 22-year-old passenger of Frontier Airlines was duct taped to his seat after he allegedly groped female flight attendants and punched a male flight attendant in the face. Also this month, a 13-year-old boy on an American Airlines flight who had become physical toward his mother and tried kicking out a window was videotaped being duct taped to his seat by a flight attendant.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), bad behaviour onboard flights have seen a sharp increase since Jan. 1, 2021, with 3,810 unruly passenger reports and 2,776 passengers refusing to wear masks onboard. A total of 655 investigations have been initiated and 112 cases resulted in penalties.