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How to avoid drunks and air-rage maniacs on flights

December 9, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59An American consumer advocate and travel expert has imparted a few smart ideas about how to avoid some of the wilder in-flight behaviour being increasingly reported around the world.

IATA recorded 10,854 passenger disruptions worldwide last year, or one incident for every 1205 flights. That’s an increase from the 9316 incidents (one incident for every 1282 flights) reported in 2014.

Most incidents involved verbal abuse, failure to follow lawful crew instructions and other forms of anti-social behaviour. A significant proportion (11%) of reports indicated physical aggression towards passengers or crew or damage to the aircraft. Alcohol or drug intoxication was identified as a factor in 23% of cases, though in the vast majority of instances the drink or drugs were consumed prior to boarding or from personal supply without knowledge of the crew.

Airborne rager

Airborne rager

Christopher Elliott, a consumer campaigner and editor for the big US travel publication National Geographic Traveler, suggests the following to avoid the loonies:

  • Fly early. The IATA report said alcohol and drugs were a major factor in 23% of air rage cases. Book an early morning flight to avoid heavily intoxicated passengers, Elliott suggests.
  • Avoid tight quarters. Use a site such as Routehappy ( to find flights based on amenities and comfort. Hipmunk ( rates flights based on “agony” – a score determined based on price, number of stops and duration.
  • Choose the right seat. A bulkhead row, exit row or seat near the galley is less likely to feature in scenes of midair disturbance. Elliot speculates that this may be because these seats tend to get more attention from cabin crew, or regulations restrict the types of passengers who can sit there (specifically, the exit seats).

Writing in USA Today, Elliott pointed out that only a fraction of in-flight incidents get reported. He cites research suggesting much of the problem stems from passengers being cooped up with insufficient leg space.

Written by Peter Needham

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