Come fly with me, but behave

By Alice Neville

Air travel can be stressful enough without having to endure the passenger beside you droning on about their divorce or dropping a bag on your head.

It's no wonder air rage is on the rise.

Latest research from Britain's Department of Transport reveals more than 3500 reported incidents aboard UK aircraft between April last year and March this year, a huge increase on the 2702 cases reported in the previous year.

And 37 per cent involved at least one passenger travelling while intoxicated.

Although no official record is kept here most New Zealand travel agents have tales of woe, prompting the Flight Centre to compile a list of guidelines for good plane etiquette.

Tips include not hogging the armrest, not reclining your seat on short flights or during meal times, and keeping footwear on if there is "any suggestion of odour issues".

Melissa Irvine, manager of the Shortland St Flight Centre in Auckland, has confronted many examples of bad air etiquette during her travels.

Her pet hates include laughing so loud at a movie the entire plane can hear, drinking too much and giving the person next to you the third degree when they want to be left alone.

Most airlines have terms and conditions allowing airline staff to restrain passengers who behave offensively, preventing them from travelling with the airline in the future.

Pacific Blue spokesman Phil Boeyen said about half a dozen people were banned from the airline in the past five years, for security breaches and disruptive behaviour.

"This is done for a set period of time, usually between 3 and 12 months, then reviewed."

A Jetstar spokesman said no one has been banned from flying with the airline since its New Zealand launch.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman would not say how many passengers it had banned, but confirmed the option was available if a passenger had been "putting the safety of others at risk".

In the worst cases police can be called to meet the passenger. An officer from Auckland airport police station said they were called to meet an unruly passenger about twice a week.

Police are often called to deal with people making jokes about terrorism or bombs.

Kristel Coldicutt, a consultant at House of Travel, sat behind a man on a flight from Singapore to Auckland whose bad behaviour led to police being called.

"He started getting aggressive and swore at my friend," she said.

"Eventually the staff told him if he didn't behave himself, they'd restrain him."

After that the man became "slightly more tolerable" but police were waiting for him in Auckland.

Flightmares to forget

"I was stuck next to a flatulent man from Hong Kong to Auckland. He didn't get up to go to the bathroom once. I went there a few times to get some fresh air."
- Rose

"On the way back from London via LA, a man drank eight cans of beer in the first two hours, before the air hostess declined to serve him more. My friend woke up to find him curled up on her, with his head resting on her shoulder and his arm around her waist. She elbowed him off and we moved seats."
- Sophie

"On a flight from Christchurch to Auckland, a mother and toddler were sitting in front of me. When the pilot announced we were landing, the mother whipped off the kid's nappy and did a full change. The smell filtered through the plane and I almost threw up."
- Anna

- Herald on Sunday

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