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Study: Air Rage Fueled By First Class Cabins

Dorathy Gass

A recent study conducted by teams from the Harvard Business School and University of Toronto have found that the aggressive anger that some people develop while travelling the friendly skies, better known as air rage, might be stemming from a simply walk through the first class cabin, to get to their coach seat. It seems that in many ways, the small class-based division of society that occurs on an airplane could be affecting people’s behavior, and a feeling of inequality may set this sort of behavior off.

The team reviewed the data base of an international airline, which revealed thousands of cases that involved incidents, within millions of air flight trips. What this analysis revealed was that ‘air rage’ seemed to occur more frequently on those planes that has a first-class cabin; and this sort of behavior was likelier when flyers would have to walk through first class, to get to their economy seats. Incidents happened both in the first class and economy cabins.

As the authors of the study noted, taking the walk past first class can reinforce a feeling of a disadvantaged status, which may stir up negative feelings, and create aggressive behavior; relaying a feeling of segregation between the ‘haves’ and ‘the have nots’.

Over 80 percent of these incidents happened in coach seating, versus the 15 percent reported in the first class cabin. Males seemed to be more likely to be involved, three times more than females in fact; and the rage is usually geared towards flight attendants, versus other flyers.

Fortune reported that it seems that the ever-shrinking room for passengers when flying, especially as it relates to coach, seems to be the increasing reason for complains; however, this study focused more on the layout when it comes to air rage, as being its trigger.

As first class sections get more lavish, and larger; the risk of air rage could increase. Authors note, as class-based seating on planes and inequality increase, cases of air rage may grow at the same rate.