People do disgusting and disruptive things on airplanes. They show little regard or patience for fellow passengers and their needs. Inconsiderate behavior on the part of passengers can make air travel an unpleasant hassle for everyone. The 2014 annual Expedia Airplane Etiquette Study ranked the top on-board etiquette violators as reported by passengers:
Rear Seat Kicker: cited by 67% of study respondents
Inattentive Parents: 64%
The Aromatic Passenger: 56%
The Audio Insensitive (talking or music): 51%
The Boozer: 50%
Chatty Cathy: 43%
The IATA received more than 8,000 complaints of unruly passengers in 2013. Is it any wonder air rage is on the upswing?
Consider that up to 16 million Americans may have Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which causes them lash out inappropriately at people and things – and that’s when they’re nowhere near an airport. The Federal Aviation Administration defines air rage as a passenger’s explosive and unpredictable behavior occasioned by congested travel, unexpected delays, or negative interactions with other passengers and flight personnel. From this point of view, the list of etiquette violators doesn’t really fall within the air rage definition. But from a psychological point of view, the story is different.
Mental air rage, silent epidemic
What safety and health officials call “explosive air rage” spills out into the public sphere for everyone to witness; these are the verbal attacks on passengers and personnel by someone yelling profanities, threats, complaints, and insults. “Mental air rage,” on the other hand, is emotional and private. Most people try to suppress mental air rage and prevent it from showing publicly for various reasons including fear, embarrassment, rational self control or compassion. It’s psychologically very real even though it’s far less visible than its explosive counterpart.
With millions of us traveling this week, this is a very timely story. What are the rules about handling air rage? What kind of authority do flight attendants have to kick you off a plane or have you arrested?