Air rage is so prevalent in today’s stressed out society that someone has even written a book about it called ‘Air Rage: Crisis in the Skies’.

Even in today’s BBC news the Civil Aviation Authority reports five examples of air rage on flights from Northern Ireland to England in the last two years, and further examples of air rage on flights in and out of Liverpool’s John Lennon airport.

The global picture shows an increase in air rage, and markedly so after 9/11. Mike Fisher founder of the British Association of Anger Management says ‘I imagine across the planet there’s definitely an increase and I think it is partly to do with the amount of alcohol that is actually consumed on airline travel, coupled with all the anxieties and stresses of travelling in the first place.’

With alcohol served on demand, its inevitable that passengers become stressed, angry, unruly and ultimately violent.


Though alcohol is not the only culprit to blame. China suffers from an increase in air rage because their planes aren’t on time. It would seem that even though they spend billions on building the world’s biggest and best airports, they can’t keep to a schedule. With only 18% of flights out of Beijing’s Capital airport departing on time, its easy to see why passengers flip out and go berserk.


What is Air Rage?

Air rage comes in two forms of variety, hostile and emotional. The most common emotion being anger. We all suffer anger at having to wait, anger at bad service, and anger at being squeezed into a confined space. Stressors can build up on an airplane, as much as they can on any mode of transport. Though the unique problem with an airplane over a train is that you can’t evict passengers from an airplane. I heard a story today about a lady who became so hysterical on a flight she had to be restrained in a straight jacket. In fact, crew routinely carry restraining shackles just in case now.


Lets delve deeper.

Once you look into the symptoms of air travel, a different picture emerges. The very first thing that happens to us once we settle into our flight is the altitude change. We’ve all heard of altitude sickness. At the extreme it can be life threatening. So when the cabin quickly pressurizes to 10,000 feet above sea level, the body reacts by becoming dehydrated. Airline pilots often complain of dry and flaky skin, proving that when the body is repeatedly subjected to such drastic altitude changes, the effects become chronic.

The Journal of Environmental Health Research reports that air travel increases the risk of catching a cold by 100 times because of the recycled air. If someone is sick and coughs his germs in first class, every passenger on that plane will breathe them in too.


An unseen danger of flying that many people are unaware of, is the radiation from cosmic rays which are concentrated at high altitudes. Its so high that one international flight will supply a hit of radiation equivalent to one chest x-ray.

Then there is the dreaded deep vein thrombosis (DVT), where the symptom of sitting in the same position for hours plus dehydration, greatly increases the risk of blood clots.


Last but not least is jet lag. The transitition from one time zone to another causes fatigue, memory loss, insomnia and even psychotic or mood disorders. No wonder cases of air rage are on the increase. Flying is dangerous business.


Three easy steps to beat air rage and the symptoms of air travel.

  1. Move around. Try to get an aisle seat and stretch and move your legs often, and take trips to the bathroom even if you don’t have to go.
  1. Drink water, not alcohol. Its goes without saying that water hydrates the body while alcohol dehydrates.
  1. Read Mike Fisher’s book ‘Beating Anger’ and learn the eight-point plan for coping with rage.


Air rage is on the increase but it doesn’t mean you must suffer it too.