Pre-empting air rage

By David Armstrong

We've all heard stories about air rage: Someone's flight is delayed by rotten weather elsewhere and he throws a tantrum, loudly berating the airline. Or a weary traveler is vocally miffed because a baggage screener disses him. Or an overworked airline employee, angry at airline management, takes out her frustration on the passengers, without whom there would be no airline.

As the problems pile up, especially with money-losing, capacity-cutting U.S. carriers, incidents of air rage pile up, too. As travelers, we can't control airlines or airports. But there are some things we can do to stop air rage before it happens.

We begin with the P-word: planning. A little planning can take us a long way to achieving peace of mind, whether it's thinking about how much time to allow before leaving for the airport in heavy traffic, researching the latest twists and turns in security rules or - as U.S. airlines begin to charge fees for checking bags - knowing how to pack.

The smartest approach is doing as much as you can before you leave for the airport, thus streamlining your travel experience and minimizing the amount of time you spend in crowded terminals.

So, book your flight online, either through the many commercial websites out there or through the airline's website. Print your boarding pass on your home computer. Go to a website like the invaluable, scope out the layout of your plane and choose your seat - the one away from the galley, the restrooms and the middle of the row.

Research the latest security requirements before you encounter that long screening line. The Transportation Security Administration website,, is useful for this; click on "What to Know Before You Go." If you fly a lot and the budget permits, sign up for one of the commercial registered traveler programs, such as Clear; you'll still have to go through security and doff your shoes, but you'll have a separate, shorter line.

Research the airport. Many airport websites include maps of terminals and parking facilities and include directories of amenities such as children's play areas, cool aviation museums, restaurants and bars, washrooms with diaper-changing stations and dental and medical clinics. Most major foreign airports have English-language versions.

Pack smart. Packing smart means packing lightly. Put everything you think you need in your primary bag; then unpack and leave half of it at home; you don't need everything you think you do.

Don't be one of those problem passengers who try to beat the checked-bag fees by carrying-on hugely oversized bags that won't fit into the overhead compartment. Flight attendants and your fellow travelers will thank you for it. In any case, if you are determined to try to carry on a very large bag, you'll find that U.S. airlines have begun rigidly enforcing the maximum carry-on bag size. They've already started making people fit their bags in to bag-sizers located next to departure gates. If your bag doesn't fit, you're gong to have to check it - in most cases, for a fee.

I have traveled light for years, seldom checking anything, and there is nothing like the feel-good factor you get when you waltz out of the airport while other passengers are standing around waiting for the baggage carousel to finally cough up their gear.

These are common-sense guidelines, of course. Do they provide an elegant, comprehensive solution to our air travel woes? No, but it's a start.


©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The article misses the point; it is not lack of planning on the part of the public that produces air rage; it is the end result of consious decisions made by airline executives. Certainly, it is far worse in the US; American airline executives have a profound contempt for people of their own nation that they do not have for people of other nations, which is why their international services are so much better than domestic. When flying to the US is is far easier on the mind and heart to avoid switching to a US flag air for as long as possible.

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It’s Nippon5 who has “issues.” He or she is one of those cognitively challenged people who think that because they have not had a certain bad experience those who have are automatically at fault.

Neither my wife nor I have had to deal with air rage from passengers. So does that make this article invalid? According to Nippon5's illogic it does.

Most of our experiences flying have been good to outstanding. Many a time the flight crew presented us with a bottle of wine.

About a decade ago the usual US airline we take was the pits, particularly one route. I pass on the gory details. Finally I got so fed up and wrote the company headquarters a detail letter on the abuse we had received and got a positive response. On our next flight we were treated like royalty and that awful route suddenly because pleasant. In our experience ground staff is far more bellicose than flight crews.

US Customs and Immigration is notorious for its rudeness and the experiences we have had a certainly not as bad as a few we’ve read about. To keep this posting short I pass on our details.

I feel that a lot of hostility we did get, particularly from ground staff, has been because we are a racially mix couple. I base this on subjective experience, so take what follows for what it is worth. When I have traveled alone I have never ever had a bad experience with air or ground staffs. On not many but disturbingly enough occasions my wife and I got sudden unexpected hostility--much of it directed at my Japanese wife rather than me. This has been almost always from ground staff, and mostly, for some reason, in California.

As I said most of our flying experiences have been positive. But this article is about air rage and that is what I addressed.

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how? service an attitude

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Nothing like a peaceful flight as conditions and environment on board tend to wear out even the most patient passenger if the journey to the airport, the smooth check-in and immigration check point and final scan before entering the waiting lounge was a breeze. Having research the airport, seat guru info and Clear card .....doesn't help much at all. Have you ever sat next to an oversize passenger , came across a lady who insist on using the business class toilet and when told otherwise, proclaimed weather the air steward knew who she was and proceed to throw a tantrum, happy go lucky who over done with free booze, threw out in the tiny toilet and cause lots of inconvenience and discomfort to others, passenger who kept buzzing the air stewards and complained they are not getting enough of their attention. Some of these passengers render the chief steward to demand and witheld their passport so that action would be taken on arrival. If only they knew, they'd arrive in better shape if they bring a good book and eye pad and be polite or at least put up with the air stewards who seem to be avoiding them , period. One more hurdle is to find your luggage damaged or worst missing and then finally the officer who insist on going through your luggages, opening presents and their cost. Travel solution ?

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The best thing to do is to wait until these folks are bubbling with anger and turning red, then tell them that they have to pay $15. a bag for their luggage. Great entertainment. Now really, people who can't contain their anger, or at least direct it in a useful way, are nutcases. They need drugs and psychological help. Being annoyed is just part of flying these days, but losing completely is not acceptable. You're either a child or a psycho if you do.

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the easiest remedy is to give everyone lots of free booze

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Avoid the USA and US Airlines is good advice.

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Good advice maybe, but if everyone is sitting away from the galley, the restrooms and the middle of the row, isn't the plane going to be rather empty? And if everyone is in the Clear line, won't it be just as long?

Reminds me of an announcement they used to make at the local swimming pool a little after 4 every day: 'The pool closes at 5. The changing rooms are crowded then, so please get out of the pool now and make your preparations to go home.' I never worked out how there would be less of a squeeze in the changing rooms if everyone obeyed the announcement.

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Yeah... sure airage is all the fault of the passengers... Not the TSA, not the clowns of the plane company... Not all the clowns on a payroll that know they can get away with everything.

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I agree with treebeard, the writer is only talking about US domestic travel. International is a different game.

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it is painfully obvious that the writer of this article has never traveled "international" or for longer than a weekend stay anywhere (and never in Japan)... which begs to question: Why is such an article in a "news" site about Japan?

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Wow Jeancolmar you have some serious issues to work out. I am also part of a mixed race couple and have traveled all over the world including the US and havent had this problem in the US airports or in any airport. Do you think Obama has a magic wand that will change how people think about you, maybe its not the color of the package but whats inside that makes people rude to you... As far as air rage people need to grow up and learn that life isnt easy and sometimes we have to wait for things, or deal with people who are not all that nice.

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The P-Word, yes like knowing that the laptop you did not take out of the bag will hold up the line or that big ass belt buckle will set off the metal scanner.

The bottle of water you just bought, will not go through the security check but you can buy the same damn bottle on the other side of the gate.

I just went to the states and immigration pulled me into secondary, said my name was common, so need another check. First time that has happened. While I was in there, saw a women being questioned hard about a hospital bill for having a baby, not paid. When did immigration become a bill collector and did you remember to put all of your paid bill receipts in your pocket? What a bunch of crap.

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That is all very nice advise, but what do you do with vicious ground personnel and, occasionally, creepy flight crew? And, oh yes, rude customs and immigration scummies?

Let me tell you, my wife and I get a lot of hostility as a mixed-race couple. The US is the worst in that regard. It is useless to complain to the airline, or so I've found with the frequent abuse we've encountered when forced to fly the Friendly Skies.

No amount of planning can help you avoid creeps, particularly racist creeps. You do develop a certain poise. You take names. You complain to the right people. Sometimes you get results but most often you get nothing at all. But you do put the abusers on notice.

Here is something you might try if you are abused on board. Call the purser and explain what happened and get the abuser in front of you to apologize. Then ask for a favor--nothing big, but a small favor. Don't say you'll report the incident to the airline because that will turn to entire cabin crew against you. But do it anyway, mentioning, of course, that something nice was done for you if that were the case.

As far as dealing with US officialdom, it's best to avoid the US entirely if you can. At least until Obama become president.

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"there is nothing like the feel-good factor you get when you waltz out of the airport while other passengers are standing around waiting " Yeah. And there is nothing like the feel-good factor of wearing fresh clothes each morning.

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