Last updated: 09:11 AM ET, Tue May 03 2016

Do First-Class Cabins Create More Air Rage?

Airlines & Airports | Donald Wood | May 03, 2016

Do First-Class Cabins Create More Air Rage?

PHOTO: A new study finds that just the act of boarding a plane that has a first-class cabin engenders a heightened chance of air rage. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

A recent study about “air rage” found that one of the key factors in incidents related to frustration stems from a plane having a first-class cabin.

According to, a study conducted by officials from the University of Toronto found that passengers forced to walk through a first-class cabin were 11 times more likely to have an air rage incident.

The research defines air rage incidents as passengers who become unruly or abusive.

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The study examined more than 1,500 flights, and researchers discovered passengers onboard a plane that had a first-class cabin were just as likely to have an air rage incident as passengers on a flight which had been delayed for nine and half hours.

University of Toronto associate professor and the study’s lead author Katherine DeCelles theorized that passengers in the economy sections of planes who are forced to hear about the first-class cabin throughout flights grow more frustrated than passengers on planes without the premium cabins.

“When they close the curtains between the cabins or they remind economy passengers to not go into forward cabin, it reminds people that they’ve paid hundreds of dollars for this experience,” DeCelles told ABC News.

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While not involved with the study, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University professor E. Scott Geller has read the results and is looking to offer solutions for frustrated travelers, including not forcing passengers in economy class to walk through first class during boarding.

Another possible way for airlines to ease the stress would be to allow passengers in economy class to board first, avoiding the frustration associated with watching first-class passengers board before them.

Geller also shared that passengers feeling potential air rage should talk it out with the people around them with the intent of keeping their emotions in control. Instead of fighting over an armrest, talking to the person sitting next to you and trying to compromise could make the flight easier for everyone involved.


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