Around 300 cases of air rage and other bad behaviour are being reported each week, according to the International Air Transport Association, which is urging countries to sign up to a new agreement.
IATA is calling on governments to speed through changes to laws to cope with unruly and disruptive passengers after reaching agreement at a conference last week.
Changes to the Tokyo Convention, which governs many aspects of air travel, will close a loophole that has allowed numerous cases of unruly behaviour on flights to go unpunished.
The proposal extends the legal jurisdiction from the country of aircraft registration to the destination country.
This means that prosecutions should be easier as they will be under the remit of the country where the aircraft lands, not where it is registered. This will be particularly helpful where a flight is diverted because of a serious incident.
"A lot of people are going unpunished simply because there is no legal instrument to do that," Anthony Concil, IATA's head of communications said.
The agreement now needs to be ratified by 22 key countries, but IATA admits this may take some time.
Concil added: "In some cases there will be very little modification needed and in some, significant changes. It’s not something that’s going to change tomorrow."