OK, time is up. Yes, I was once filled with air rage— and I acted upon it. Fortunately, I’m much better now. I have completed my 10 step program and have not lashed out at anyone under 18 years of age for a year. But then again, I suppose you are never really “cured.”
Before we can learn how to avoid air rage, we have to understand what it really means. According to an entire book dedicated to it called, Air Rage: Crisis in the Skies by Andrew R. Thomas, air rage covers a wide range of passenger behaviors caused by physiological and/or psychological stresses associated with air travel.
The first case of air rage was recorded in 1947 on a flight from Havana to Miami, when a drunk man assaulted another passenger and bit a flight attendant. At that time, the applicable jurisdiction of laws was unclear, so offenders often escaped punishment. In 1963, the Tokyo Convention dictated that the laws of the country in which the aircraft is registered takes precedence.
Some of the present day stressors that lead to air rage are excessive alcohol consumption wherein changes in air pressure enhance the psychoactive effects of chemicals like alcohol. But alcohol is not the leading cause of air rage. In fact, it accounts for only about 25% of incidents. More often, air rage is caused by anxiety and feelings of helplessness caused by delays for which no one offers an explanation, cramped conditions, and restrictions such as the banning of smoking (which can lead to nicotine withdrawal en route). Finally, the increased invasiveness by security officials since 9/11 is a source of stress to many travelers as well.
So with all of these contributing factors, how does one avoid being a victim of air rage?
First and foremost, it’s important to relax and be well-rested the night before you travel. By ensuring you get enough rest the night before, you are less likely to be irritable as you embark upon your journey.
Secondly, if you are delayed and are going to miss a particular event or meeting, assess your alternatives with your travel agent or airline staff. Phone ahead and explain the situation. Don’t get caught up in the situation but rather make the situation as tolerable as possible. Be as proactive as you can.
Get your mind off the situation by reading. Take a brisk walk to get rid of nervous energy. All of this can help you avoid getting caught up in any “crowd mentality” that may develop.
Allow plenty of time to get to the airport through traffic, find a parking space, deal with check-in, luggage, security, all of which precedes the delays, cramped conditions, lack of sleep, oxygen deprivation and dehydration.
And as in my case, if another passenger is disturbing you, notify a flight attendant to intercede. Do not take matters into your own hands unless you want two guys named “Marshall” escorting you down the aisle!