Stop Air Rage Now! How to Not Freak Out in the Air

Photo: Oote Boe 2 / Alamy Stock Photo

This story is part of a new Yahoo Travel series, #StressFreeTravel, dedicated to making travel better in every way possible.

A lot of people watch reality TV to get their daily dose of drama, but these days, all you have to do it book a flight if you want to see a throw-down.

It seem like every week there’s a new headline about someone freaking out on a plane.

We’ve reported stories about passengers yelling at flight attendants, people fighting over reclining seats, and even an enraged passenger slapping a crying baby on a plane. Air rage is thriving, and honestly, it’s getting a little out of control.

To figure out why people are losing their minds on planes, Yahoo Travel conducted a survey asking people to identify what triggers their air rage. Nearly a quarter of respondents said that they didn’t get angry on planes. To them, we say “Thank you.”

Related: Air Rage: Why Does Flying Make People So Crazy?

But the rest of survey-takers had very strong opinions about what was acceptable in the air. Twenty-one percent of respondents blamed their air rage on other passengers, and 17 percent blamed the cramped space.

Eleven percent said that a crying baby on a plane fueled their air rage, and 7 percent pointed the finger at a rude flight attendant.

Professor Robert Bor is a specialist in aviation clinical psychology and says that the results of our survey were not surprising, considering the agitating environment of planes. “It’s often jostling of armrests, fighting for overhead space, and lines to board,” he told Yahoo Travel. “It’s quite competitive behavior that takes place.”


Anxious fliers who use alcohol and mediation to soothe their nerves can sometimes behave unpredictably. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Additionally, Bor says that flying can be an exhausting experience for many travelers. “People often get on a plane emotionally charged. They can be stressed because of a short connection, an affair with their family, or a work issue,” says Bor. “And then there are people who have a fear of flying, and that can be exhibited in anxious behavior.”

As for why we’re hearing more stories about air rage, Bor has two explanations. First, new FAA regulations require airlines to report these incidents more frequently. And the second reason is technology. “We have removed the human element from travel,” says Bor. “People don’t see a rep from the airline, and by the time something becomes an issue, the only people there to answer for it is the crew, and things start to flare up.”

Related: “Passenger Shaming”: Pictures of the Rudest, Grossest Passengers in the Air

Clearly, no one likes sitting to the guy who’s ranting about his salty airline meal while slapping babies. So to prevent yourself from becoming the next headline on Yahoo Travel, Professor Bor offers up these six tips for controlling your air rage.

1. Start with the right mental state


Having low expectations might be the best way to avoid air rage. (Photo: Mosuno/Stocksy)

Give yourself some leeway in getting to the airport. Don’t rush around if it isn’t necessary. Also, be realistic. Thinking that the trip is going to be perfect is the wrong mentality. Expect speed bumps.

2. Put it in writing


Write a formal complaint for anything that goes wrong on your flight. (Photo: Simone Becchetti/Stocksy)

If you have any problems, put it in writing and send a message to the airline. You can also ask what the airline can do to correct the grievance.

3. Bring supplies


Don’t rely on the airline to meet your basic needs. (Photo: Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy)

Bring your own entertainment in case the in-flight movie isn’t working or isn’t something you want to watch. Also, bring your own food. There is nothing more stressful than having an airline meal you can’t eat. Having your own supplies makes you feel less dependent on the airline for all your needs. If you depend on it for your needs, you will be become irritable.

4. Take minimal baggage


Traveling light produces less stress. (Photo: Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy)

People get stressed over baggage — waiting for it, losing it. Try not to check a bag, and carry the smallest carry-on possible.

5. Dial down your sense of entitlement


You’re not the only one of the plane. Sometimes things won’t go your way. (Photo: Suzanne Clements/Stocksy)

You are in a small, shared space with other people. People have different standards than you. If things are not how they should be, they don’t have to be perfect, just good enough.

6. Save your frustrations


Having an outburst on the plane will only end badly for you. (Photo: Gene Chutka/E+/Getty Images)

Save your frustrations for an environment when you can let them out. If you vent on a plane, you can expect the police when you land, and that’s the last thing you need. Take your tensions to an environment where they can be dealt with.

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