AFP Engagements on Domestic Flights

12 replies


Member since 08 Sep 2018

Total posts 3

Hello Fellow Travellers,

Long time reader, first time poster.

As we're all aware the frequency of bad behaviour, ('air rage') in our skies is getting plenty of media coverage and appears to be on the rise. Many of these incidents involve the AFP at our major airports.

I wanted to get a sense from you all about what you think is causing this apparent rise. And also, what constitutes an appropriate use of the AFP in these instances. Last Friday, I saw one such passenger who was two rows forward – I was in a great position to observe and hear. The incident appeared minor and involved a fairly offhand rude hand gesture. It could only be viewed as a personal slight against this crew member. He followed all their instructions, not drunk. No threat was apparent – violence or language. However, on arrival he was frogmarched off – akin to a police state.

For those on here that work in the aviation industry or knowledgable travellers, I wanted to know your thought on whether it is appropriate to engage the AFP in situations of personal offence versus actual or perceived threat.

If so, where would one draw the line – an eye roll, rude tone, answering back, an offensive gesture?


Poll: Is it appropriate to engage the AFP in situations of personal offence as opposed to actual threat?

Chris C.

Member since 24 Apr 2012

Total posts 1,116

Having previously worked on the ground at a major airport, I can share that it's not a case of 'call the AFP every time there's a problem', as such (the police aren't there as babysitters, after all), but if a passenger is displaying certain behavoural signs, becomes aggressive towards staff or others, says something inappropriate relating to travel or aviation security and so on, the AFP are notified as standard procedure, and it's up to them whether to take further action, or whether charges eventuate or just a mere conversation to de-escalate.

Of course, there'd be a different procedure if the captain specifically requests AFP attendance on arrival, which is less common but sometimes necessary.


Air New Zealand - Airpoints

Member since 31 Oct 2016

Total posts 206

Situations are far too dynamic to lump them all into one basket. In the situation you mentioned, it's very possible there's a lot that went on before the situation even caught your attention.

The crew relay any situation like that to the front-office, where the captain decides on what actions need to be taken.

Pointing back to what Chris said, often they (The AFP) are engaged as a case of better safe than sorry, I think there was an incident in Wagga about a year ago of such a case.

Far from a police state, however, I believe it comes down to an environment when Authority needs to be displayed to ensure a lessened likelihood of anyone else also causing a scene.

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 28 Oct 2011

Total posts 261

What was the rude hand gesture, and - more importantly - what preceded it?


Member since 08 Sep 2018

Total posts 3

What was the rude hand gesture, and - more importantly - what preceded it?

Well the hand gesture in question was the middle finger. However it wasn’t given with any aggression just an offhand screw you. It should also be noted that despite feeling this way he did follow the crew instructions.

In terms of what preceded this incident, I was two rows back aslie side and did not see anything or hear anything. It would have been difficult for anything to precede it or follow it as it occurred during a 2 hour wait on the tarmac while we were all (including crew) seated.

Anyway, just got me thinking of whether this was more common than I thought and what were other peoples experiences.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 10 May 2012

Total posts 106

IMHO, there is a culture in Australia of over the top Officialdom from even the most minor people in even the slightest positions of Power, I think it harks back to when you were all criminals off boats and "Authority" was used under the slightest pretext. I've noticed this across many situations. Airline cabin crew are particularly petty in many cases. It's often quite pathetic actually.

Andrew Barkery

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 21 Mar 2011

Total posts 433

When it comes to aviation, esp up there in the air, its better to have the ground prepared, ie, have the AFP on hand.

Some people do play up on planes, whether its bravado, or fear of flying, or access to alcohol, or for what ever reason.
***Supposedly*** we have air marshalls on our flights, but I guess they can't be on every flight.
I would prefer that the AFP be on hand, or that the crew be trained to subdue things before the plane lands, when it could be too late.
We don't do mental health checks on the appropriateness of the potential flyer, meaning every man and woman can buy a ticket and fly in domestically in Aust, without an assessment, (even if they have a mental health problem), in fact I think a person can also fly internationally, if they have a mental health problem but have not have any interactions with health authorities, and so I say, having zip ties, on board a plane, and having the AFP on hand, or police in other overseas locations to meet a flight, is a good idea.
Otherwise, who else can you call if someone is acting or doing worst than the OP described.
O, and yes, I know that there are others who do not agree with this diatribe.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 31 Jan 2016

Total posts 78

No one should have to put up with bad behaviour or bullying, not flying public or airline staff, it makes no difference to me.

I have been on a flight where a person was 'escorted' from the plane by 4 AFP officers before we could depart.

The individual in question allegedly 'struck' their partner while boarding which a staff member saw and was concerned about including 1. safety of other passengers, 2. the safety of the person who was attacked, 3. safety of the flight and 4. their own safety.

While I know there can be minor issues on flights, everyone deserves to make it home safely everyday. Happy to have the AFP...!!!


Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

Member since 16 Oct 2017

Total posts 285

The real issue here is when freedom of speech should be subservient to larger issues. Hard to disagree it should be so in appropriate circumstances. Impossible to define what is "appropriate" and what isn't. I can only say that, if an encounter is no more serious than someone taking personal offense at the view expressed by another, that should not involve the police. Unless a specific law has been broken e.g. racial slur. And it shouldn't make any difference that the person taking offense is in a position of authority. The usual announcement that pax must obey all directions from the crew is actually misleading. Pax must obey only lawful directions. If two pax are discussing football results and a crew member takes personal offense overhearing criticism of the team they support, can they lawfully direct the pax to stop talking? Certainly not, absent other factors such as disorderly conduct. The same applies to calling the police - the circumstances must objectively justify the reaction.


Member since 24 Apr 2018

Total posts 14

Almost every workplace will evict you for giving the staff a rude hand gesture. Airlines are merely atypical in that they have ready access to law enforcement instead of private security. I don't have a problem with the police at airports being used in this fashion. Don't give the staff rude hand gestures and you will be fine.


Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

Member since 16 Oct 2017

Total posts 285

I don't have a problem with the police at airports being used in this fashion.

Police at airports are funded by the taxpayer and IMHO should not be used as security by private companies (airlines) where no law has been broken, where whatever has happened is a civil matter.


Member since 31 Jul 2018

Total posts 17

Shouldn't need the AFP. Have the Captain eject them from the flight. Add them to the no fly list. Deadbeats like that deserve to catch the bus anyway :)


Member since 17 Sep 2015

Total posts 73

Interesting that the poll is very evenly divided between 'yes', 'no' and 'maybe.'

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