Air rage rage

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Commenter David alerts us that Consumer Reports fell for the notorious air rage story.

Background on air rage here and here. Or, if you want to read something by someone other than me, here. This last piece is particularly devastating as it addresses flaws in the underlying research article, hype in the news reporting, and the participation of the academic researcher in that hype.

From the author’s note by Allen St. John at the bottom of that Consumer Reports story:

For me, there’s no better way to spend a day than talking to a bunch of experts about an important subject and then writing a story that’ll help others be smarter and better informed.

Shoulda talked with just one more expert. Maybe Susan T. Fiske at Princeton University—I’ve heard she knows a lot about social psychology. She’s also super-quotable!

P.S. A commenter notifies us that Wired fell for this one too. Too bad. I guess that air rage study is just too good to check.

7 thoughts on “Air rage rage

  1. I was recently bumped up to first class for a flight on a plane where the riffraff didn’t walk through the first class area to get their seats. I was personally grateful for this since I didn’t want to imagine the riffraff judging me as they walked by the way I usually judge the first class passengers as I walk by.

  2. United reportedly offered Dao an $800 travel voucher, which was more than $500 short of the maximum outlined in the carrier agreement.

    Ignoring that the threshold for invoking violent removal is so low, why is there a maximum amount they can offer? Also, it needs to be a travel voucher? I’ve had those expire before, they are much worse than cash. The low limits on reimbursement seems to be at the root of this problem.

    Anyway, I remember from earlier discussion it didn’t look like anyone could tell whether air rage incidents were really on the rise (the usual trick of changing the definition and reporting incentives).

    If they are rising though, it is convenient for airlines to blame it on passenger psychology rather than an increasingly degrading flying experience (eg it got so annoying I really try to avoid flying altogether these days). This is similar to how healthcare industry often blames the patient for noncompliance when a treatment doesn’t work, or apple blamed their customers for “holding it wrong”.

    • No, of course they can give their money to anyone they want. Rather, if I read correctly, $1350 is sufficient compensation for removing a passenger involuntarily, according to federal regulations, so there is no need to offer more.

      The passenger signed the contract that he was obliged to leave. If that contract is not enforceable, the extra cost will be born by passengers. (And, yeah, the police were even more idiotic.)

      It is unwise to blame airlines for selling people what they are willing to buy.

      • this article
        claims that the contract did not allow United to remove him
        “The contract allows the airline to deny boarding involuntarily in case of overbooking. But that’s not what happened; the airplane wasn’t oversold. And Dao wasn’t denied boarding. As far as we know, he was removed from a seat he had already taken after being assigned to it. The contract’s specific provisions for removing travelers or refusing to transport them don’t include the airline’s desire to free up seats, whether for its own employees, as in this case, or for other passengers.”

    • In the EU, the airline has to give you actual cash money (between 250 and 600 Euros, depending on the length of the flight) if they overbook the flight or if you arrive at your destination more than three hours late. Many of the major European airlines have a simple form to fill out on their web sites to make such a claim. A couple of months ago, my wife and I arrived 3 hours and 7 minutes late and we were given 500 Euros in compensation, which arrived in our bank account less than a week after we filled in the form. Not bad considering that the total round-trip cost was 130 Euros for the two of us!

  3. Your reading seems correct. It looks like more of a minimum payment, according to formula established by the Department of Transportation, that caps out at $1,350.

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