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Air rage during the pandemic – where it is and isn’t happening


These videos are a big hit on social media and make headlines.

Covid-era travel has seen more instances of passengers acting badly, from verbal disputes to full-blown brawls.

Although “air rage”, may appear to be another inevitable consequence of living with a pandemic in some areas of the globe, there are less frustrations in these parts.  

Highest ‘air rage.

There were approximately 50,000 people alive before the pandemic. 100 to 150 reports of unruly passengers in a typical yearU.S. Airlines

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that there were approximately 6,000 people in 2021. Some 72% of them related to dispute over masks.

Shem Malmquist (visiting instructor, Florida Institute of Technology’s College of Aeronautics) stated that the issue was primarily a U.S. concern. Part of it is directly related to U.S. political politization of the pandemic. The majority of cabin crew consider U.S. travelers to be less problematic than other passengers.

Europe faces a lot of disruption from passengers. Flights departing from have seen high-profile incidents. Spain, Scotland, AmsterdamAnd Glasgow.

Australia’s largest airlines jointly launched the Joint Campaign in 2021 after an increase of abusive behavior by flyers. To remind passengers, videos and signs have been posted at airports. to bring masks and respectful attitudesOn the internet.

The International Air Transport Association hosted a panel discussion on unruly passengers. This was followed immediately by another about “cabin crew health and well-being” during the two-day conference held in Lisbon (Portugal) in December 2021.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Are there different cultural norms?

Malmquist says the problem is “certainly in part cultural.” He said that it was possible that flying in Asia is restricted and that passengers are not able to fly.

He also said that there were fewer leisure travellers in Asia. This is because there are “almost exclusively” business travelers.

Airliners ‘don’t have major problems’

Korean Airlines said that mask acceptance has helped to lessen in-flight meltdowns.

CNBC received an initial statement from an airline representative saying that they hadn’t seen any significant changes in the number of unruly passengers onboard since Covid-19. Partly because people have a social background and wear facial masks voluntary.

The source later issued another statement, saying that although the airline had experienced issues with masks, it has not significantly increased the number of incidents. 

Similarly, Doha-based Qatar Airways told CNBC: “We don’t have major issues … Most of our passengers comply to the rules, and there are a small number of them who might be difficult. … The crew tell them nicely to put on a mask and most obliged to it.”

The U.S.A. was fighting over the use of masks in planes, while India was fighting to have masks for their safety.

Trish Riswick

social engagement specialist at Hootsuite

What do social media statistics reveal?

Although airlines might be reluctant to speak up, travelers are often willing. Many incidents in flight are recorded on social media by witnesses. These can be seen and retweeted by millions, as well as picked up by news outlets.

Hootsuite reports that Twitter users worldwide mentioned the “air-rage” and the unruly incidents of passengers more than 117,000 time during the pandemic.

Yet only 1,860 — fewer than 2% — came from users in Asia, according to the data.  

Trish Riswick from Hootsuite, who is a specialist in social engagement, stated that many Asia posts were related to incidents involving passengers. 

She said that Asian users are often unruly and refusing to wear masks.

Riswick stated that her research led to several conversations regarding rule-breaking incidents on flights leaving from India and Japan.

Hootsuite reports that the United States saw the largest number of conversations regarding problematic flyers, with 56,000+ mentions. Canada followed closely by the United Kingdom and Canada. Data showed that users in India and Indonesia received the highest number of mentions.

There have been economic protests in Asia during the pandemic — like this rally against South Korea’s labor policy in October 2021 — but far fewer anti-mask marches than in other parts of the world.

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Riswick stated that it was difficult to find the right word for “fight” in the context of research. The way this term is used varied across continents.

She said that while people in America were fighting over wearing masks on planes, Indians were fighting to have masks for their safety.

Hootsuite has limited data because of language. She said that this research was limited to conversations only in English.  

However, Asia-based Twitter discussion about problems flyers declined by 55% while worldwide conversations increased more than three times, according to data.

After concluding the research, Riswick said what she finds most surprising is how outrageous some of the incidents are — especially those that involve flight crews.

She said, “My heart goes out for those who just try to do their job,”