Ever notice how people on planes seem extra aggressive? How you become extra agitated?
From freaking out about fellow passengers reclining their seats to fighting about armrests, air rage is real.
And while we might think that it’s the many indignities suffered by the time you reach your assigned seat — getting strip searched by the TSA, eating an unidentifiable greyish mush that may well be a TV meal from the ’50s, sitting with your knees touching your chin — it’s actually not any of those things that turns passengers into belligerent, insufferable apes.
It’s First Class.
New research by the University of Toronto and Harvard Business School has found that planes with First Class cabins are four times more likely to have air rage incidents than those without.
According to the
study, people will patiently suffer in long lines, quietly complain about delays, and resign themselves to tiny seats — but seeing those comfy First Class cabins? Apparently that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The study found that planes with separate cabins create a “physical inequality” — obviously. But added to this is “situational inequality,” which becomes extra apparent when you schlep to the back of the plane through First Class, fighting over an overhead bin while the front sips champagne.
This newly heightened sense of inequality makes back-of-planers aware of what they don’t have and what they can’t have, as well as what they can’t control. These feelings of helplessness quickly translate into anger and aggression over trivial things, like armrest hogging and seat kicking.
This explains why air rage is more common in Economy (84%) than First Class (18%). However, people at the front of the plane in turn become more aware of their elite status, and thus have higher expectations, resorting to anger when their experience doesn’t measure up.
The only solution? Champagne for everyone.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.