Luckily for me my flights to and from Colorado were relatively smooth (just lost an Airpod and snuck through TSA, which is super illegal), but that’s something that is becoming less and less common. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like every other week I’m hearing about some unruly passenger disrupting flights and being arrested.
Something that seemed to start during covid with the mask mandate has now transformed into something you actually worry about before boarding a plane.
I mean it’s made some airlines (cough, cough Spirit) looking like a flying circus, literally. And I’m sure their marketing team isn’t too happy about that.
Instead of road rage they’re calling it “air rage”.
The Latest Offender
But this time it’s not Spirit. On a United flight from Los Angeles to Boston a few weeks back a passenger tried to open an emergency exit door midflight, and then attempted to stab flight attendants in the jugular with a broken spoon.
The guy was detained by staff and passengers, arrested, and charged with sentences that could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison! What is so vindicating and urgent that it’s worth the risk of life in prison.
Some backstory worth noting: the offender was admitted to a psych hospital, but was released after he claimed they misdiagnosed pain from a car accident with a mental disorder a few years back.
But nonetheless, let’s talk about whether rowdiness on planes is actually becoming more frequent, or if it’s just the news picking it up more.
What does the FAA have to say?
According to the FAA, it’s the former. They believe that there’s actually an increased frequency of unruly passengers becoming violent. And they actually list a few suspected reasons:
- Flying has created a hierarchy: they argue that planes sort you by status, with people of means sitting in the front or emergency exits with extra leg room and others refined to the cheap seats, and that this leads to tension. I don’t know about you, but when I sit in the back I don’t feel the desire to stab anyone.
- Too much hustle and bustle: Boarding a plane can be stressful, especially if you brought a carry on. Everyone rushes in line at the gate because thy want to ensure that there’s enough overhead bin space for their bag (because just about every flight runs out nowadays). The FAA thinks that this creates a stressful and agitated environment. When, I read this my mind immediately went to groupthink, and how riots are started.
- Fewer flight attendants: Flight attendants have frequently been the source of cost savings. When major airlines find that you can operate a flight just as efficiently with two attendants instead of four, they’ll typically just get rid of the extra two. This leads to less control and vulnerability when it comes to unruly behavior (catching problems later, coordinated attacks, etc.)
So, the FAA is convinced that it’s an increase in frequency, which is supported by this chart. Notice the spike during mask mandates being lifted.
What to do, What to do
There are a few solutions that have been proposed and adopted across multiple airlines, like restricting alcohol on flights, making the consequences harsher (national database of unruly passengers), and better screening of passengers.
Here’s your new flight attendant:
And introducing the “hurt locker”
Truly an embrace of the flying circus.
The Joe Holka Show
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Some more thoughts
I’m slowly starting to understand why T-Swift and so many others are flying private. If I were them and could skip TSA, not worry about crowds, and ensure I wasn’t getting stabbed in the throat with a broken spoon I probably would too.
It was hard for me to brainstorm many other solutions beyond those outlines. I think that the alcohol restrictions (some people just can’t handle their liquor) and increased attendant presence is probably a step in the right direction.
Sadly, I also think you could probably just price these offenders/passengers out of the flying experience. In an age where we’re seeing more “first class experiences “ I could see this becoming more popular.
I mean we’re already kinda seeing it. Spirit, for example, reports many times more incidents than Delta and is typically much cheaper.
Anyways, if the FAA or any airlines reading this who want to make a viral marketing campaign with John Cena and some duct tape let me know, let’s make it happen.
Let’s have ourselves a weekend.