People can do crazy things when stuck inside an airplane, but a new study has found a bout of air rage can be brought on by being stuck in economy class after seeing the superior comfort of first class.

Passengers on planes are known to have yelled at flight assistants, lashed out at other passengers and even attempted to practice yoga and meditate on board planes.

A new study suggests air rage can be triggered by seeing how the other half can enjoy the flight in the luxuries of first class section.

It found that passengers in economy class were 3.84 times more likely to have an incident of air rage if they were on a plane that had a first class section. They were 2.18 times more likely to have an outburst if they had to walk through first class to board the plane, rather than boarding in the middle of the plane and entering directly into the economy section.


"We posit that the modern airplane is a social microcosm of class-based society, and that the increasing incidence of 'air rage' can be understood through the lens of inequality," the study's authors Katherine Decelles and Michael Norton write.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on a data set of all onboard air rage incidents over several years from a large, international airline.

Overall the incidents of air rage were low. For every 1,000 flights there were 1.58 incidents of air rage in economy and 0.31 in first class.

Yes, that's a ponytail blocking the in-flight entertainment. Photo / Dante Ramos, Twitter.
Yes, that's a ponytail blocking the in-flight entertainment. Photo / Dante Ramos, Twitter.

Boston Globe

columnist Dante Ramos captured what many called the most infuriating example of poor plane etiquette in March.

Ramos captured the ponytail of the person in front of him being flopped over the seat, blocking the in-flight entertainment screen.

He shared the picture on Twitter and received a lot of sympathy from people.