Nigerian Civil Aviation Act 2022: Handling Unruly Passengers While Upholding Safety and Responsibility in Air Travel

by | Dec 7, 2023 | 0 comments

A Bold Step Towards Ensuring Air Travel Safety and Passenger Responsibility

In a significant stride towards ensuring the safety and security of air travel, Nigeria has introduced a groundbreaking amendment to its Civil Aviation Act of 2022. Section 85(4) now declares that the pilot-in-command of an aircraft is obligated to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of the aircraft and the security of passengers on board in the face of unruly passenger behavior. This amendment, effective from August 2022, marks a crucial shift in policy, transforming an unregulated aspect into a legal offense punishable by law.

The Preceding Policy:

Before this amendment, instances of unruly behavior by passengers often left airlines and cabin crews in a vulnerable position. Unruly passengers could threaten legal action against airlines, citing violations of their rights, without clear legal consequences for their disruptive actions. This created an environment where passengers felt empowered to behave in a manner that jeopardized the safety and security of the flight.

The Significance of Section 85(4):

The inclusion of Section 85(4) in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act addresses this gap in the regulatory framework. The amendment empowers the pilot-in-command to take decisive action when faced with unruly passengers. Moreover, the provision extends beyond the pilot’s authority, allowing them to seek assistance from any person on board the aircraft. This multifaceted approach is a testament to the seriousness with which Nigeria now regards unruly behavior during air travel.

Legal Ramifications:

With this amendment, unruly behavior aboard an aircraft is no longer a mere inconvenience but a punishable offense. Passengers who engage in disruptive conduct now face legal consequences, including potential damages claimed by airlines. This shift is particularly crucial in instances where passengers previously exploited the absence of legal repercussions, threatening legal action against airlines and cabin crews.

Empowering Airlines to Protect Safety:

Airlines now have the legal backing to pursue damages in court when faced with unruly behavior. This empowers them to maintain a safe and secure environment for all passengers. While the intent of this act is not to grant airlines a license to mistreat passengers, it serves as a call for responsible behavior from both airlines and passengers alike.

Balancing Passenger Rights and Responsibilities:

The amendment encourages a balance between passenger rights and the responsibilities that come with the privilege of air travel. Passengers are still entitled to a safe and comfortable journey, but the act emphasizes that such entitlement should not be exploited to the detriment of others on board.


Nigeria’s recent amendment to the Civil Aviation Act is a significant step towards fostering a safer and more responsible air travel environment. By criminalizing unruly behavior on flights, the country is sending a clear message that safety and security are paramount. This legal provision not only protects airlines from unjust legal threats but also encourages a culture of responsible behavior among passengers, ensuring a more harmonious and secure experience for all air travelers.

About the Author

Shadrach Swante Kambai

Flight Operations Consultant, Aviation Data Analyst, Business Developer (

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