Here's why people tend to get angry on planes

Incidents of air rage are increasing every year, with very little being done to control them

Life&Style March 10, 2016
Incidents of air rage are increasing every year, with very little being done to control them. PHOTO: EAVISA.COM

We've all witnessed at least one passenger on a plane burst into anger because there's no leg space or because the flight has been delayed.

We don't usually expect people to get so worked up about small inconveniences like these in every day life, which is why it seems like flying has an effect on our overall temperament.


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Guess what, there's even a word for that. "Air rage" is the tendency to get over-aggressive on planes, according to Huffington Post.

ABC News reported that with growing incidents of air rage, and very little being done to control such incidents, flight attendants are complaining that passengers are not being warned enough before flights.

"Our US airlines have failed to promote cabin safety over their profits," Patricia Friend, head of the flight attendants' organisation, told ABC News. "They have failed adopt training guidelines issued by the FAA, they've failed to take the full responsibility for these air rage incidents, and they've failed to support workers who are victims of air rage."

She said that there were 4,000 air rage incidents documented last year, but only a handful of passengers had been fined.

"I tried to calm her one final time. As I got quieter, the louder she got, and as I was saying please calm down, she slammed me across the face," flight attendant Lynn White said, describing a flight from San Francisco to China where two passengers became enraged.


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HuffPo explained that most air rage is caused by passengers becoming aware of the fact that they have very little control of anything when they're flying.

"Anger goes up when you feel a lack of control," explained Dr Martin Seif, a psychologist who specialises in flight anxiety. "We're never truly in control, but there's an intense awareness of that when you're flying."


When you end up seated with a terrible neighbour or a child kicking the back of your seat, you realise that you have absolutely no power over the air travel experience. While not everyone responds to a lack of control in the same way, many respond with anger, explained Seif.


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Further, in an attempt to pacify themselves, some people turn to alcohol, which tends to elevate their emotions - in this case, anger.

In April, REM guitarist Peter Buck apologized for an incident in which two British Airway staff members said he assaulted them in a drunken rage during a flight to London, reported ABC News.

Seif recommended focusing on something else, instead of in-flight frustrations. For example, forget the flight delay and enjoy your in-flight movie.


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