Given the number of passengers flying now, its surprising that more of us aren’t angry. But the number of incidences of full blown air rage are surprisingly low. According to a worldwide study of airlines carried out by the International Civil Aviation Authority, it found that between 2007 and 2013 there was an average of one unruly passenger incident every 1,708 flights. Of these, just a fifth were serious enough to justify getting the police involved on landing.
So we’re all either very accommodating, or asleep, or can handle our drink sufficiently well. Airlines say that intoxication is the main cause of air rage. Despite their attempts to curb excessive drinking whilst on board, the real damage is usually done before the passenger embarks the plane, usually at the airport terminal or even before that, in the hotel or wherever they may be staying.
Despite the relatively low level of air rage, it is, for those that witness it at first hand, pretty disturbing. Restraining violent or abusive people in an enclosed space without the support of police is not a pretty sight.
So you’d think the airlines would take every opportunity to prevent it from happening (if only to protect their own crew, who get called upon to sort things out). But according to a study from the University of Toronto and Harvard Business School, the airlines could be their own worst enemy. The academics studied air rage data obtained from an unnamed international airline and found that class envy was as much to blame, especially on aircraft that have two classes of seating.
Apparently, forcing those in economy to walk past those in the better seats can, well, tip some of us completely over the edge. And let’s face it, who hasn’t gone a slight shade of green as you pass through business class, the queue to take your seats giving you just enough time to admire the width of the seats and the free bubbles?
Of course, the vast majority of us are happy to then just shrug our shoulders. After all we’ve already seen these passengers emerge from their lounges, board the aircraft first and use separate security lanes. So by now we’ve accepted that life (and flying in particular) is just not fair.
But surprisingly, it’s not just those down the back that get enraged over seating, the academics found that first-class passenger were more likely to behave badly if economy passengers walked past them whilst boarding!
This surely takes petulance to a new height?