Thanks to social media, we've seen a lot of unruly passengers on airlines acting out in one way or another, causing us to either love or hate the airline...and ultimately impacting the airline's stock price. It seems like these events are a lot more commonplace since we see them in the news and social media, but how common is "air rage" really? Was is always happening and we are only hearing about it now thanks to technology? Or did technology help create the rage?
You might actually be surprised about these results.
Of course, we all know about most of the high-profile cases, and these are the ones we remember and tend to set the tone for the industry. A quite notable one from 2014, was the infamous "nut rage" incident at New York's JFK International Airport where Korean Air vice president, Heather Cho, ordered one of her company's aircraft to return to the gate before takeoff. Why? She was served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a bowl, aiming her fury at the flight attendant serving her. After the incident became public, Cho resigned from one of her executive positions and served three months out of a twelve month prison month. Quite a large consequence for an incident that didn't even have the magnitude to be considered a "minor" event.
In recent years, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recorded a total of 9,315 incidents of unruly passengers across the globe in 2014 and that increased 14.0% to 10,854 in 2015. However, in 2016 that number fell slightly to 9,837. This amounts to an incident of air rage in 1 out of every 1,434 flights.
However, this is on a global scale: by comparison, the U.S. is actually seeing its prosecutions for air rage incidents decline. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were 310 actions against unruly passengers in 2004 and that number has steadily descended (no pun intended) to just 99 incidents in 2016. You can see how the numbers in the US air rage have declined since the year 2000.
Some not that aircraft design might actually be a contributory factor to air rage, namely that the class differences onboard really agitates passengers according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. Their research claims that the presence of a first class section onboard makes an incident of air rage 3.84 times more likely. The risk also goes up when economy passengers pass through the first class section after entering through the front of the plane. Jealous much? (I maintain that first class exists to remind you that you aren't in first class).
This becomes apparent when it's noted that economy passengers are 2.18 times more likely to become unruly when they enter through the middle of the aircraft, however, this increases for first class passengers who are 11.86 times more likely to make a scene.
Despite the fact that rage can be caused by differences in leg room, flight lengths, the number of passengers on the pane taking up bin space -- really anything -- the common issue usually lies in the quality of in-flight meal differences between first class and economy class. Of course, that was nicely demonstrated by our friend Ms. Cho's reaction to the macadamia nuts not being served in a bowl.
I guess the one source of solace is that Americans are getting much better with air rage compared to global flights...well...at least on a domestic basis.
For more information and fascinating statistics, visit Statista by CLICKING HERE.
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