Air rage: Why it happens and 5 infamous cases

The recent spate of air rage incidents suggests that we can't escape the possibility of encountering unruly passengers who could ruin our holiday plans.

But what are our chances of experiencing a nasty incident on board, really?

Here is a reliable estimate: one incident for every 1,205 flights.

That's the figure reported by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) when it revealed last year that some 10,854 unruly passenger incidents were reported by airlines worldwide in 2015.

That's a 17 percent increase from the 9,316 incidents reported in 2014.

Most of the cases involved verbal abuse, reluctance to follow crew instructions and other forms of anti-social behaviour.

About 1 in 10 of the trouble makers were physically aggressive towards other passengers or crew or caused damage to the aircraft.

Alcohol or drug intoxication was highlighted as a possible cause in almost a quarter of the cases, mostly consumed before boarding or without knowledge of the crew.

But there are various contributory factors, such as anxiety, lack of sleep, stress and fear of enclosed space that caused people to lose it among the clouds.

Here are 5 recent examples that made headlines.

A screengrab of a video shows the man in red shirt attacking the man behind.

1. Punch-up on ANA

An All Nippon Airways flight was delayed in Tokyo on Monday (May 1) after two male passengers got into a brawl after one of them threatened to "kill" him. The aggressor was an American who wore a red shirt.

The crew had to intervene as the fight, which was captured on video, became intense.

After leaving the plane, the man in red shirt, reportedly choked a flight steward. The 44-year-old was arrested and charged with assault. AFP reported that he was found to be 'drunk'.
 

Kwama Bantu insisted on moving to business class to ease his swollen legs.Photo: Jason Allen

2. Row over business class upgrade

Last month (April), two unruly passengers were thrown out of a British Airways flight from London to Jamaica following a row about an upgrade.

'Diabetic' passenger Kwame Bantu alleged he was tied up by cabin staff after he tried to ease his swollen legs by moving to a seat with more space.

Another passenger, Joy Stoney, protested on his behalf. But the pilot decided to divert the flight to the Portugues island of Terceira and kicked out the pair.
 

Photo: Screengrab of a video shows the Ethiopian flight passenger being detained.

3. Crazed man on Ethopian Air

When a hysterical man tried to break into the cockpit on an Ethiopian Airlines flight which took off from Addis Ababa for Beijing in March, the crew as well as passengers were too frightened to stop him.

He was pounding the door and kicking it nonstop. Then stepped in the hero: Cao Hongguo, a bodybuilder who brought the man down. The flight captain helped Cao pin the man to the floor.

But it took 20 minutes to tie up the struggling man who broke free at times.
 

Photo: Facebook

4. Richard Marx takes down violent man on Korean Air

Singer Richard Marx (in pictures above), who is known for his romantic hits in the 1980s, made headlines last December when he helped subdue a drunk passenger on Korean Air.

The 34-year-old man attacked crew members and other passengers on board a flight from Hanoi to Incheon. On his Facebook page, Marx said the incident was "chaotic and dangerous" as the crew were "completely untrained" to handle it.

The passenger was later put on a blacklist as he had caused a similar mid-flight ruckus a few months earlier.

Photo: Reuters

5. Nut rage on Korean Air

This one takes the cake as it involved a senior airline executive ironically.

Top Korean Air executive Heather Cho (above), who is also the daughter of the airline's chairman, blew up when she was served macadamia nuts in a way she deemed inappropriate. She humiliated and jabbed the flight attendant with a bunch of papers.

Cho was jailed for ordering a taxiing plane back to offload the steward. The case attracted global attention.

chenj@sph.com.sg

on SPH Brightcove

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