Travel Tips

Joanita Wibowo

Why you shouldn't let "air rage" get the better of you

Why you shouldn't let "air rage" get the better of you

Going on flights can be a stressful and frustrating experience. But there’s a reason why you should keep it together – losing your cool on the plane comes with a hefty cost.

Delays, confined space and close contact with other passengers could send you fuming, but having a meltdown above the clouds may leave you with massive bills, travel bans and even jail sentences.

A disruptive or violent passenger may be responsible for the costs incurred by their air rage incidents. “Diverting an aircraft in order to offload an unruly passenger not only presents safety and security risks but also incurs substantial costs for the airline,” a 2016 report by the Australian Institute of Criminology said.

“Costs may include fuel loss, airport-related costs and payments to other passengers for inconvenience caused.”

Last year, a Perth court ordered a man to pay almost $26,000 after a Brisbane-bound Qantas flight was forced to divert back to Western Australia due to his erratic behaviour. The man was also banned from flying with Qantas and Virgin.

The report also said that flight bans “are not uncommon” for disruptive passengers across all Australian airlines.

Under the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991 and the Civil Aviation Act 1988, assaulting, intimidating or threatening a cabin crew member with violence could warrant 10 years of imprisonment. If you’re heading to an overseas destination, the authorities in that country will take charge.

In Korea, a woman served five months in jail for disrupting a Seoul-bound flight in New York, where she ordered the plane to return to the gate so a flight attendant that served her food incorrectly could be ejected.

Air rage incidents are on the rise. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), unruly passenger incidents occurred on one out of every 1,075 flights in 2017, with 10 per cent of the incidents involving physical aggression or damage to the aircraft. Incidents involving violent threats or weapons also increased from 1 per cent the year before to 3 per cent.

The IATA said the top three issues were disobedience to safety regulations, alcohol or other intoxication, and smoking.

However, a 2017 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States found that airplane design might be the problem. It revealed that air rage incidents are 3.84 times more likely to happen when there is a first-class section on the plane, emphasising the class difference between passengers.

What do you think of these rules around air rage? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.