292 Air Rage & Inequality

Based on research done by DeCelles, Katherine. A., & Norton, Michael. I., (2016) written by  Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Air travelers have experienced increasing incidents of air rage, identified as aggressive behavior and a lack of consideration for others.

To identify reasons for this increase, organizational behavioral researchers reviewed 4000 passenger incidents from a large international airline. The researchers found that air rage is four times more common in economy class with flights that have a first-class section than in flights without. Economy class, especially, with larger cabin areas (with more people), longer flights, and experiencing longer delays, had greater chance of air rage. Front boarding planes where economy class had to pass through first class section to board were two times more likely to have an incident in economy class and twelve times more likely in first class. Incidents in first class were usually due to expressing strong anger (36% first class vs 28% economy class) whereas economy incidents were more likely to result in panic, being upset (6% economy vs 2% in first class).

Airlines might want to examine their practices of reducing space and services for economy class and highlighting the first class’ inequalities. Meanwhile, encourage equality and respect for everyone.


DeCelles, K. A., & Norton, M. I. (2016). Physical and situational inequality on airplanes predicts air rage. PNAS Early Edition, 1-4. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1521727113

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