Almost 60 percent of flight attendants say problems such as verbal abuse and sexual harassment on planes have increased in recent years, with 16 percent saying they have been victimized, according to a survey released by airline unionists.

The survey was conducted in April by the Japan Federation of Aviation Industry Unions on 9,500 flight attendants belonging to the union, and 43 percent responded.

Of the respondents, 77 percent said the worst problems they encountered by passengers were smoking in lavatories or in aisles, while 52 percent cited improper use of electronic devices and 34 percent cited smoking in nonsmoking sections. Sexual harassment, including groping, was cited by 23 percent as the most common problem.

In 698 incidents of inappropriate behavior, flight attendants were unable to stop such offenses despite giving verbal warnings, the survey results show.

Also noted were 112 cases in which passengers were handed over to police after committing such infractions as striking airline employees and refusing to wear seat belts, forcing planes to return to gates.

There were 21 incidents in which passengers became violent after being refused alcoholic beverages.

The union is calling for a revision to the Civil Aeronautics Law to punish such offenders, noting rules were revised last year so that problem passengers could be denied entry aboard aircraft, but claiming revision did not improve the situation.

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