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Air Rage

Aug 19, 2021 | Trends

United Flight 857 was proceeding smoothly to Shanghai from San Francisco. Everything was quiet in row 55, where identical twins Cynthia and Crystal Mikula, 22, of Buckley, Mich., enjoyed a movie and lunch. But after having too many drinks, they started calling each other profane names, got into a physical altercation, and used the aircraft restroom to smoke.
Then things turned ugly. The crew tried to restrain Cynthia, who wanted Crystal to open the aircraft’s door, and got punched in the face. The pilots decided to fly the plane to Anchorage, Alaska, 1,100 miles away, where the raging twins were promptly arrested. As one might expect, the Apr. 19, 2001 altercation was caught on video and made ABC News. Cynthia Mikula terror twinCynthia Mikula, one of the “Terror Twins” who disrupted United flight 857, in an undated photograph as a model and a 2010 police mug shot. Mikula was arrested in Plainfield Township, Mich., near Grand Rapids, after a gas station attendant identified her as the person who allegedly left drug paraphernalia in the station’s restroom. It seems that terror still follows this twin.
  • Domestic incidents – Today, a major flashpoint is wearing masks. As the featured image shows, this point of contention is causing much disruption. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating 3,889 cases of unruly, even dangerous passenger behavior since January 1, 2021, a figure that has nearly tripled since just May from 1,300. Of these incidents, 2,867 (74%) involved passengers who refused to comply with Federal facemask requirements. A staggering jump from a typical year with just 100-150 confirmed cases. The agency also reports it took enforcement actions against a total of 1,300 passengers in the entire previous decade.
  • International incidents – According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 265 airlines and 83% of global air traffic, there were 10,854 worldwide cases of unruly passengers in 2015, or one in every 1,205 flights, a 14% increase over the year before. In 2014, there were 9,316 incidents or one per 1,282 flights. Since IATA established new guidelines for the definition of air rage in 2014, 2015 may have been an anomaly. However, a systematic review of research on disruptive airline passenger behavior (DAPB) between 1985-2020 found an escalation in DAPB. The study cites a survey of U.K. cabin crew who reported a 50% increase in verbal abuse over the preceding year. IATA data collected in 2016 indicates that verbal abuse accounted for 86% of DAPB incidents.
  • Leading causes – Association of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson sums up on-board conditions that lead to air rage: alcohol consumption, tight seating, full flights, fewer flight attendants, and human nature. According to one study, the leading cause of air rage, at 32%, was intoxication, followed by belligerent behavior (29%), non-compliance with crew instructions (19%), and smoking (11%).
  • First major air-rage incident – The “honor” of the first high-profile U.S. air-rage incident, which took place on Oct. 22, 1994, belongs to Washington radio talk show host Julianne Malveaux, 42, who called a 9-year-old girl who accidentally bumped her while she asleep “a little savage” and what The Washington Post describes as “a particularly foul four-syllable word.” She also swore at a flight attendant who accidentally sprayed her with a can of soda and grabbed another flight attendant’s arm when asked her to put away her laptop before landing. She was arrested and charged with assault and sentenced to probation.
  • Gerald Finneran – A horrifying example of air rage involved Wall Street investment banker Gerald Finneran, 59, flying from Buenos Aires to New York on October 20, 1995. Already over-served, Finneran was harassing and assaulting flight attendants, trying to get more wine. When they refused to serve him, he defecated on a service cart in first class in full view of other passengers, then began wandering around the cabin, leaving feces in his footprints and smearing some of it on the walls. This was unquestionably one of the worst cases of air rage ever and graphically illustrates the accelerating collapse of human decency and civility.
  • Dr. David Dao Duy Anh – Many altercations occur right on the ground. The most shocking recent incident involved Dr. David Dao Duy Anh, a Vietnamese-American passenger, who was forcibly removed from United Express Flight 3411 seat by ground personnel, losing two teeth in the process.
Even during a pandemic, there is no respite from ill-mannered behavior. Stay safe, inflight attendant.

Ubertrend Categorization: Casual Living.

Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong

Founder, Author, Adjunct Professor, Futurist

Michael Tchong is a distinguished analyst renowned for his expertise in scrutinizing and dissecting societal, cultural, and technological trends. His invaluable insights serve as a cornerstone for guiding businesses and organizations towards more informed decisions regarding their products, services, and innovation strategies.
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