Have you noticed the general decline in civility, especially on airplanes? Who hasn’t seen or felt road rage? Some of it may be due to TSA cavity searches, (in the U.S.) but a report published on May 2nd by the National Academy of Sciences determined that a primary cause of air rage is due to forcing economy class passengers to parade through the increasing size and comparative luxury of first class seating.

Building anger

People who are already tired and annoyed with standing in long Security lines and then humiliated by body searches are apparently pushed near the psychological breaking point by being shown the much better conditions that a privileged class gets in the aircraft.Later, any perceived slight by the flight attendants, sitting by a crying baby, or just a general annoyance with sitting on the runway for a seemingly endless period now pushes an increasing number of individuals to verbal and even physical reactions generally known as “air rage.”

Cause and effect

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said in part, “researchers found that flights with a first-class section were nearly four times more likely to have air rage incidents in their economy class, and that these incidents of ‘belligerent behavior’ or ’emotional outbursts’ became nearly 12 times more likely among first-class passengers and more than twice as likely among economy-class passengers if people were made to board from the front of the plane and walk through the first-class section together.”

That means that, statistically speaking, it appears air rage occurs much more often in flights that have both economy and first class and that incidents in both seating classes are even more likely when economy class passengers had to pass through first class on the way to economy (cattle pen) seating.

Air rage can be punished by a jail term and fines up to $25,000, so it takes quite a bit to cause someone who is otherwise rational to engage in that behavior.

First Class perks

First class passengers are generally boarded first, so people going to the cheap seats actually get to see who is being treated better.

Alaska Air says, “First Class on Alaska Airlines features ample space, plentiful food and beverages choices, Wi-Fi for work and entertainment players for fun, all offered by our attentive, knowledgeable flight attendants.”

WikiTravel says, “you can expect to pay up to four times the normal economy fare for business, and eleven times (more) for first class!” (Bold emphasis by WikiTravel.)

Is it any wonder economy class passengers get to their seats already feeling pretty annoyed even before the usual delays and annoyances of all air travel? Still feeling safe about air travel?