Flying used to be a fairly ho-hum activity, one that welcomed the delicate barbs of stand-up comedians about the quality versus the amount of food on planes or arm rest etiquette. Sure, things got dicy after 9/11, and we still have to take our shoes off in security while getting a full body scan with the occasional pat down, but flying had generally settled into a routine. The pandemic changed that (along with everything else). Now, flying seems like a horror movie, and the calls are coming from inside the fuselage.
Unruly passengers, labor shortages and canceled flights in the thousands have turned flying into a complete nightmare. Gone are the days of people bitching about throwing their water bottle out at security. Now it’s loaded guns and full-on adult meltdowns. And the problem is getting much, much worse. Just take a look at this graph from the Federal Aviation Administration on unruly passengers.
Nearly 6,000 unruly passenger reports were received by the FAA last year, with thousands of incidents starting by passengers triggered over wearing masks. Pre-pandemic, incidents reported were in the low hundreds. The Transportation Security Administration also recorded that 2021 saw the highest number of passengers attempting to bring guns on plane — around 85 percent of which were loaded — in the agency’s history.
With all this stress you’d think folks would toe the line when it comes to what is and isn’t allowed in a carry-on, but you’d be wrong. We’re no longer acting as rational beings. Along with those thousands of guns, the TSA confiscated some more unique items in 2021. Something called a “meth burrito” only made it to number 8, if that’s any indication of how wild the last year in air travel has been.