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Dealing With Air Rage

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 8 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Air Rage Flying Cabin Crew Physical

Air rage is a very serious offence. In addition to the verbal and physical threat it can present, it can also put lives at risk if the perpetrator decides to tamper with the aircraft in any way. Whether it’s attempting to open the cabin door or, worse still, entering the flight cockpit, it can become very serious indeed.

Why Does Air Rage Occur?

Air rage can occur when flying for many reasons. Although drinking alcohol to excess is probably the most common reason which sparks an air rage incident, there are often other factors which can cause people to go ‘off the rails’ during a flight. These can include:

  • Nicotine withdrawal
  • Overcrowding or general feelings of feeling uncomfortable
  • Perceived poor customer service
  • Long flights
  • Psychological feelings of a loss of self-control often due to a fear of flying
  • ‘Domestic’ arguments between fellow passengers

How Should I Deal with Air Rage?

The first thing to remember is that air crews are all professionally trained to deal with air rage incidents. Therefore, you should leave things to the professionals wherever possible. If, however, the air crew are not yet aware of an incident and you are sitting next to or close by to the person(s) who is potentially going to cause a problem, you should, where possible, alert a crew member to what is going on.

You can do this by pressing the call button or, better still, if you’re able to get out of your seat, go and seek out a member of the crew. Tell them what’s going on giving them the row and seat number of the person getting themselves into a rage.

What if Things Get Out of Hand Prior to Help Arriving?

Sometimes an air rage incident may escalate and turn nasty before you’ve even got a chance to raise the alarm. Therefore, if an incident threatens to get out of control and you are in the direct ‘line of fire’, stay calm if someone is being verbally abusive to you. Don’t inflame things by arguing back even if you know you’re in the right.

Quite often, somebody's rage can be brought under control by speaking calmly to the person who’s angry and by not getting angry or upset yourself, it will at least buy you some time whilst a friend or fellow passenger can summon help. Even if this means apologising when you don’t feel as though you’ve done anything wrong, it’s far better to bite your lip and apologise as opposed to inflaming the situation by arguing back.

Direct Intervention

There are only two real occasions on where you should take direct intervention when air rage occurs. If you or a fellow passenger is being physically assaulted or somebody is attempting to put the aircraft at risk by trying to get into the cockpit or attempting to open the cabin door, then you should, by all means, defend yourself or intervene as best you can until help arrives.

If another passenger is in danger of physical assault and the cabin crew have yet to intervene, you should always remember that it’s ‘safety in numbers’ that counts. Therefore, only ever attempt to take somebody ‘down’ by enlisting the help of fellow passengers.

The idea is to try to get the aggressor to the floor, preferably face down and be able to restrain them until the cabin crew get there to take over. Use anything that might be available to achieve this. A man’s tie or shoelaces, for example, can be used to bind arms or legs together. One of you can do this whilst other passengers can, perhaps, sit on top of the aggressor in an effort to immobilise them until help arrives.

The important thing to remember, however, is that you should leave the cabin crew to deal with all incidents of air rage where possible. They have been trained for this and, in addition, most airlines today carry some form of restraining devices which can help to immobilise the aggressor until the plane is able to land and the police can then take over.

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