Dealing with Air Rage

“Drunken passengers who take advantage of cheap duty-free alcohol while waiting for delayed flights have caused a dramatic rise in ‘air rage’ incidents, it emerged last night.”
“Pilots called on the courts to take stronger action against those putting passengers’ lives at risk.”
Daily Telegraph report on increase in ‘air rage’ incidents.

Reading the above makes me very sad. I suspect the pilots mean us, the travelling public, I suspect they don’t mean the air travel industry that creates the problem in the first place. Those who run the airports and the airlines are breathtakingly indifferent to the plight of those they laughingly refer to as “self-loading cargo.” If they were forced to stand for hours passing through endless frustrating and demeaning queues and checks only to be finally herded onto planes with cramped and uncomfortable seating to spend further hours breathing stale air, I can promise you, they would all suffer from air rage too. Alcohol, cheap or otherwise, is just the match to a mountain of inflammable tinder.

By the time you’ve arrived at the airport, already stressed-out from the journey, and you’ve stood in a painfully slow-moving queue to reach the check-in desk, haggled over the inadequate baggage allowance, put liquids into transparent plastic bags, made your way to the security-check queue, had the indignity of stripping almost to your underclothes, putting your mobile phone, credit cards and small change into a tray, being summoned to walk slowly through the metal detector before being body-searched, and taking your shoes off to put through the radar, you have already spent a significant part of your life being ritually and publicly humiliated. Somewhere in amongst all that you will have had your ticket and your passport checked, after queuing separately on each occasion of course. Then you find yourself in limbo-land, a shoppers’ paradise except that the goods on sale are only fractionally less than high street prices. Apart from the booze, that is.

Finally you are summoned to board your flight. Well, what do you know, there’s a queue to have your ticket checked before you can get into the waiting area where you have to sit and wait yet again, and when boarding does start, there’s a mad scramble to form another queue to have your ticket and passport inspected one more time. And after what seems like a lifetime, you find yourself on the plane at long last. Now you have to find somewhere to stow what little hand baggage you’ve been allowed because there never seems to be enough room in the overhead compartments. That’s why those in the know were so anxious to board first. But anyway, you’ve done it, after all your trials and tribulations you’re on board and you’ve stowed your things. Now you can sit back and relax in your comfortable seat. Not a bit of it.

In order to deter all but the most determined and hardy travellers, the airlines have deliberately made their seats as cramped and uncomfortable as they can be. Airplanes are always overcrowded, you see, and if they could get you to sit two to a seat, one on another’s lap, they would. As it is, they leave you to play elbow-boxing with the person in the seat next to you for use of the arm rest; they simply do not care for your comfort. They simply do not care for your health, either, so to save a trivial amount of money they recycle the cabin air until it is putrid and almost dangerous to breath. So there you sit, for hours on end, uncomfortable, exhausted, deeply resentful, and developing an airplane-induced headache. Is it any wonder the cabin crew find some passengers fractious? Is it really the right response for them to confront such passengers with a heavy handed approach that will only get them irate to such an extent they can then rough them up, put handcuffs on them, and have them charged with air rage? Is cheap alcohol really the problem here? I think not.

Travel in happier times. Note the cabin crew using a stick to welcome passengers to their destination

Travel in happier times. Note the cabin crew using a stick to welcome passengers to their destination