The faces of air rage

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Author: Harry A. Kern
Date: Aug. 2003
From: The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin(Vol. 72, Issue 8)
Publisher: Federal Bureau of Investigation
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,854 words

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Two in-flight incidents occurred aboard a domestic cross-country commercial airline flight that demanded law enforcement attention upon arrival at the destination. One involved a belligerent, intoxicated female adult passenger who assaulted a female flight attendant when asked to assume a seated position with her seat belt fastened during encountered air turbulence. The flight attendant received minor personal injury, which interfered with her ability to perform as a crew member for the remainder of the flight, potentially affecting passenger safety. The second incident involved an adult male passenger who sexually assaulted a 13-year-old unaccompanied female passenger. She promptly reported the incident to a flight attendant. Which of these incidents is considered "air rage"? (1)

Unruly behavior aboard commercial airliners is not new. One of the first reported cases, in 1947, involved an intoxicated and unruly male passenger on a flight from Havana, Cuba, to Miami, Florida, who physically assaulted a fellow passenger, causing injury. (2) Recently, reported incidents have been wide ranging, involving both males and females of all ages, income levels, and occupations. Statistically, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported an overall increase in the number of incidents attributed to unruly passengers in recent years. (3)

News media coined the term air rage in the 1990s; although opinions vary as to its causes and what it encompasses, popular culture uses the term often in describing various incidents that occur during air travel. Multidisciplinary research (examining psychological, sociological, physiological, and related human factors) coupled with more thorough collection of information on incidents of passenger misconduct can add focus and help in the recognition, assessment, and control of air rage.

Problems in Defining Air Rage

The lack of a specific description of air rage and what it encompasses has made recognizing it difficult. An examination of the words air and rage provides some idea of its definition. The word rage originates from the Latin word rabia (from which the English word rabies is derived) and denotes a presence of madness, violent and uncontrolled anger, a fit of violent wrath, violent action, or an intense feeling. (4) The word air preceding it identifies these behaviors as occurring during air travel. However, in further defining air rage, research has revealed different opinions concerning which behaviors may comprise it.

Some terms generally used to describe air rage have included air rage, (5) sky rage, disruptive passenger syndrome, (6) passenger interference, (7) unruly passengers and in-flight disruption, violence to crew members and passengers, (8) and extreme misbehavior by unruly passengers. (9) These terms, particularly when considered collectively, seem to imply that any misbehavior or criminal activity by an airline passenger aboard an aircraft or within an airport may represent air rage.

Behaviors Comprising Air Rage

While further research is needed, it seems logical that some, not all, criminal...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A107930060