Class di­vided

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS -

seat size. The lack of space to move around in the econ­omy class of an air­craft does fray the nerves of many — es­pe­cially on long-dis­tance flights. It is likely jeal­ousy to­ward pas­sen­gers sip­ping cham­pagne while seated in a roomy and re­lax­ing seat up front in busi­ness class trig­gers some in­stances of air rage. In­ter­est­ingly, the higher-fare pas­sen­gers sim­i­larly do not like econ­omy pas­sen­gers pass­ing through their cabin ei­ther. And that, too, can set off emo­tional trig­gers in some pas­sen­gers, which can also lead to air rage. Air­lines say the num­ber of pas­sen­gers who ex­pe­ri­ence air rage is mi­nus­cule when com­pared to the sheer num­bers of peo­ple who take flights each year. There is no ques­tion, how­ever, that in­ci­dents have been in­creas­ing. Thanks to in­creased me­dia at­ten­tion and plat­forms, the times when they do take place also gar­ner greater pub­lic­ity than in the past. This may also be due to the higher de­gree of po­ten­tial safety risks caused by un­ruly pas­sen­gers in today’s air­craft. Over and above the po­ten­tial dan­ger these peo­ple put the rest of the pas­sen­gers in through their loss of con­trol, the costs to the air­line are sig­nif­i­cant, es­pe­cially if an air­craft is forced to divert a flight to the near­est des­ti­na­tion to off-load an of­fender. Not­with­stand­ing the study, it is much more than a class strug­gle that leads to pas­sen­ger disruptions on long flights.

It is still believed al­co­hol is of­ten the key in­gre­di­ent be­hind the ac­tions of nor­mally sta­ble peo­ple who go berserk when their sen­si­tiv­i­ties are stretched by some real or per­ceived ac­tion of the flight crew or the other pas­sen­gers around them. The ef­fect of al­co­hol at 30,000 feet is much stronger than on the ground, and the impact of­ten creeps up on the heavy drinker. A Sun­wing flight on its way to Cuba in 2014 turned around and went to Toronto af­ter two al­legedly in­tox­i­cated women started smok­ing in the lavatory, and later got into a fight with each other. In 2013, a drunken in­di­vid­ual tried to break into the cock­pit on a flight with ap­par­ent aim to harm the flight crew. He was over­whelmed by a hockey team of Cana­dian po­lice officers. (He clearly was not aware of his fel­low pas­sen­gers or he might have be­haved dif­fer­ently.) Ex­ces­sive drink­ing hap­pens fre­quently enough to have a nick­name at­tached to it by flight crews. Such pas­sen­gers are said to be “flooz­ing,” a code word that en­ables the crew to com­mu­ni­cate with one an­other, al­most as a warn­ing to keep a care­ful watch on the im­bib­ing pas­sen­ger. While we hear about air rage in­ci­dents more fre­quently today be­cause of mod­ern mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to, the first recorded in­ci­dence of air rage ap­pears of have taken place in 1947. Dur­ing a flight from Ha­vana to Mi­ami, a pas­sen­ger at­tacked a flight at­ten­dant, af­ter first en­gag­ing in a fight with an­other pas­sen­ger. While al­co­hol and a form of econ­omy-class syn­drome may pro­vide some of the mo­ti­va­tions for air rage, there are oth­ers. For most peo­ple these would be mi­nor or even ma­jor ir­ri­tants, but they would not lead to violence. For those of an un­sta­ble na­ture, whether on­go­ing or tem­po­rary,

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