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Air Rage

May 4, 2016

Class differences that are still enforced on airplanes are correlated with more angry and uncooperative passengers.


20746706279_3544e9ba6c_k Iwan Gabovitch CC BY 2.0, via flickr

(Iwan Gabovitch/CC BY 2.0, via flickr)


Airplane cabin envy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

What turns a happy traveler into an enraged airplane passenger? The mere existence of a first class cabin, according to University of Toronto researcher Katherine DeCelles.

KATHERINE DECELLES (University of Toronto):

We found the presence of a first class cabin on an airplane increases air rage by passengers in economy to the level expected by a nine-hour flight delay.


Air rage refers to situations in which passengers who are angry and non-compliant. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DeCelles and her colleague Michael Norton at Harvard Business School report that air rage incidents among first class passenger spike when economy passengers walk through their cabin.


People who are from upper class social backgrounds, when they’re made more aware of their privilege can become entitled and more antisocial.


She says cutting down on reminders of social inequality could reduce these tensions. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.