Some things should just go without saying. But when it comes to joking about bombs on an airliner full of innocent people, some people just need to have it spelled out to them: Don’t.
Late last month, Indonesia’s ministry of transport issued guidelines allowing airlines, airports and passengers the right to sue for damages should joking about attacking air travellers cause delays.
“Anyone who has suffered losses from these jokes will be able to make a claim against the accused,” said Agus Santoso, Director General of Civil Aviation at the Ministry of Transport. “The potential for financial loss could make this a real deterrent.”
The new guidelines come after a string of such outbursts caused delays for hundreds of passengers in recent weeks. Earlier in March, Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport closed for an hour after a passenger aboard a Lion Air flight bound for Jakarta exclaimed the 737 would explode after take off.
Just three days earlier, a passenger aboard a Garuda flight from Makassar to Jakarta claimed his carry-on contained explosives, triggering the immediate evacuation of all 209 passengers. Garuda says the subsequent search for explosives – a standard operating procedure – took six hours.
Bafflingly, police tend to treat such outbursts with restraint. In the case of the Garuda flight, the suspect, a lecturer at Makassar State University who was frustrated at the lack of overhead compartment space, was sent on his way after signing a letter promising not to make similar jokes in the future.
Arif Wibono, President Director of Garuda Indonesia, who attended the announcement, underscored the loses airlines face when passengers make threats, even in jest.
In such cases, carriers struggle to reschedule the flight, find another runway slot and roster a crew on the fly. The delays have a cascading effect through the whole system, not just within Garuda but other carriers using airport facilities such as apron space and jetways, he said.
And then there are the passengers. In the case of the Garuda delay, dozens of passengers were forced to cancel their tickets and reschedule. Wibono says stricter rules are needed to act as a deterrent against future outbursts. The general public needs to know that these jokes can cause extraordinary losses, he said.
Image credits: The Travel Trunk