Researchers say their findings are relevant for any and all environments were class inequality is readily apparent.
TORONTO, May 3 (UPI) — A new study suggests “air rage” — the sky-bound equivalent of road rage — is more likely on flights that have a first-class cabin.
In the first empirical exploration into the origins of the phenomenon, behavioral scientists found class inequality to be a leading cause of air rage. Incidents of air rage were four times more likely to occur when coach passengers had to pass through a first-class compartment to get to their seats.
The study’s findings were published this week in the journal PNAS.
“I expected there to be more support for a lack of leg room as a contributor to air rage, given the attention that leg room has had — but there wasn’t,” Katy DeCelles, lead study author and researcher at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said in a news release.
Researchers analyzed thousands of flight logs detailing incidents significant enough to be considered a threat to flight safety. The majority of the incidents involved intoxication and belligerent behavior by passengers — interfering with flight attendants, refusing to sit down, yelling obscenities.
The air rage analysis of DeCelles and her research partner Michael Norton, of the Harvard Business School, identified alcohol, flight delays, flight time and crowdedness as additional contributing factors.
But none of the other factors possessed the predictive power of class differences.
Researchers say their findings are relevant for any and all environments where class inequality is readily apparent and might inspire ill will and unruly behavior — at stadiums with tiered seating and VIP sections, or in office settings where lower-level employees must pass by cushy corner officers to reach their cubicles.
DeCelles and Norton don’t offer revolutionary politics as the solution, but instead advocate a simple and practical fix.
“The more you can use those dual gates to board airplanes, separating the first-class cabin from the economy cabin, you’re going to have less air rage in both cabins,” DeCelles concluded.