“Alcohol and Overcrowded Flights Could Fuel a Rise in Air Rage This Summer”

Air Rage: The Rise of Disorderly Conduct on Flights

As the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season kicks off, a warning has been issued about the rise of air rage in the post-pandemic world. Disorderly conduct on flights has become rampant, with passengers often failing to comply with crew instructions and engaging in unruly behavior. Recent incidents include a man who allegedly pinned an American Airlines flight attendant to the cockpit door after an argument over vegetarian meals, an Air India passenger who tried to open the aircraft door and attacked crew, and Qantas Airways temporarily banning four drunk men in Australia for verbally abusing customers and staff.

Increase in Disorderly Incidents

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that there was one disorderly incident reported for every 568 flights in 2022, up from one per 835 flights in 2021. This data was collated from more than 20,000 reports submitted by around 40 airlines. Failure to comply with crew instructions, such as using e-cigarettes and vapes and not fastening seatbelts, increased by more than a third.

Factors Contributing to Air Rage

The aviation industry has noted several factors contributing to air rage. With lounge access easier than ever, more people are drinking alcohol before boarding. The general annoyance over high ticket prices and heightened anxiety in the wake of Covid has also led to fraying passenger tempers. Chaotic airports, lost luggage, and flight cancellations as carriers struggle with a lack of planes and labor aren’t helping either.

The Call for Action

The aviation industry is calling for nations to prosecute offending passengers. IATA, which represents about 300 airlines accounting for 83% of the world’s air traffic, wants more countries to take a zero-tolerance approach that deters misbehavior by taking strong enforcement action. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents US cabin crews, wants flight attendants to be given mandatory self-defense training and for security to be beefed up at airport screening points, boarding gates, and on planes. The Federal Aviation Administration has also started a campaign with social media memes and airport signs explaining what constitutes disruptive behavior and its potential consequences.

Alcohol Abuse and Fear

Alcohol abuse is a major contributor to air rage, and during the pandemic, takeaway alcohol commonly became available at airports without responsible oversight. Fear and anxiety are also major factors contributing to air rage, with people struggling to adjust to the sudden change in the flying experience. Mixed messages and abrupt policy changes around Covid have further agitated some people.

The Global Problem

Air rage is a global problem that has hit the UK, Australia, and India, among other countries. In the UK, instances in 2022 have nearly tripled from 2019 to 1,028. In Australia, authorities noticed an emerging pattern of disruptive behavior among travelers. The number of public disturbances, assaults, or incidents of intoxication and offensive behavior at Sydney and Melbourne airports soared in a year, from 279 in a similar period in 2020 to 463 between March and September 2021. According to exclusive AFP data, there were 401 similar incidents in Sydney and Melbourne airports between January and May 14, 2022.


The aviation industry needs to take a more resolute stand against air rage, with mandatory training for flight attendants, better airport screening measures, and stricter enforcement of rules for passengers. Passengers can also help by being more patient with crew and aviation workers on the ground. In the end, everyone benefits from a safer and more pleasant flying experience.

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