People traveling in the air are generally less inclined than those on the road to engage in fits of violent rage. Or so the recent numbers from the Air Transportation Association would have you believe. Sky rage incidents, it seems, have started to descend, dropping from 310 reported cases in 1999 to 266 cases last year, reports the ata, which represents 23 U.S. airlines. If this seems like a rather small decrease, it is. At least until you consider the total number of flights last year: 8.6 million.
While the Federal Aviation Association says it's too soon to predict a true pattern, the ata is quick to point out the reason for the decline—training. Many carriers are adopting get-tough strategies, and the Skyrage Foundation was set up as a clearinghouse of information on thwarting and dealing with unruly passengers. The foundation has even produced videos in the hopes of teaching flight attendants how to handle an airborne ruckus.
Individual carriers are following suit: Delta Airlines' training video shows flight crews how to use plastic handcuffs to subdue angry passengers; U.S. Airways is teaching flight crews how to safely restrain passengers; and Frontier Airlines is holding less physical "Verbal Judo" seminars.
To assist flight crews, the pilot's union has proposed that all airlines begin identifying specific professional travelers—like doctors and bomb experts—who would be able to assist in the event of an airborne outburst. Currently, only law enforcement officers traveling with weapons are identified to the crew.
So, the next time you find yourself becoming agitated over that long wait on the runway, try to sit back and relax, otherwise you might find yourself wearing plastic handcuffs. —K.M.