Lonely Planet Writer

It's the economy! First class envy is the cause of a lot of air rage incidents, study reveals

What causes air rage? Instead of the ever-decreasing legroom or frustrating travel delays, one study found the mere existence of a first class cabin onboard is enough to increase air rage incidents dramatically.

First class travel with Singapore Airlines.
First class travel with Singapore Airlines.

The study, published earlier this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of Americaexamined thousands of air rage incidents on an international airline over a period of several years and confirmed they are on the rise.

When the researchers controlled for comfort factors such as legroom, travel time and flight delays, they found air rage incidents were four times more common on flights where first class cabins existed.

Additionally, if economy passengers were forced to walk through first class on the way to their seats, the number of air rage incidents doubled yet again.

The authors of the study suggest an airplane is “a social microcosm of class-based society” and that the increasing number of air rage incidents can a physical reminder of the inequality in society.

However, it’s not just economy passengers who were susceptible to physical reminders of inequality. When economy passengers boarded through first class, air rage among first class passengers were a whopping 12 times higher than if they didn’t see economy passengers board.

Alcohol is also commonly attributed by cabin crew as a factor in air rage incidents, as well as long travel delays.