Dr. Doug Drury

Dr. Doug Drury, Aviation Program Director, University of South Australia

Air Rage – A Systematic Review of Research on Disruptive Airline Passenger Behaviour

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Dr Doug Drury is the University of South Australia’s Aviation Program Director with a career that spans over 35 years that includes, helicopter and fixed wing, military, commercial airline, corporate, and emergency medical systems (EMS) aviation. Research interests that focus on applied human factors and safety management systems programs for industries operating in high-risk environments. Development of CRM/HF and Fatigue Management programs that focus on awareness vital to corporate concerns and industry regulatory compliance. LOSA observations conducted with major international airline as integral component of PhD research into emotional responses to perceived threats in high-risk environments.

“Air Rage”: A Systematic Review of Research on Disruptive Airline Passenger Behaviour

Passenger behaviour that is defined as “air rage” can disrupt a flight to the point that it jeopardises the safety of all on board. Antisocial behaviour on board can range from non-compliance with safety instructions through to verbal or physical abuse toward cabin crew or even other passengers. In crew training this is referred to as ‘disruptive airline passenger behaviour’ (DAPB; Rhoden, Ralston & Ineson, 2008), a more general term that encompasses the full spectrum of antisocial behaviour, rather than the media-coined “air rage” which implies that incidents must involve overt aggression (Vivian, 2000). There is a current industry trend toward sustainability and better management of security challenges, so addressing air rage is of ever increasing importance. Bor (2003) indicated that air rage incidents appeared in 1 in 30,000 flights and IATA (2016) reports that there was 1 incident reported for every 1205 flights in 2015 which represents a dramatic change in 12 years. Recent studies cite that “virtually no empirical research examines the antecedents of this hazardous and increasingly common phenomenon” (DeCelles & Norton, 2016). The prevailing opinions on air rage are largely based on sources such as Dahlbert (2001), an expert-opinion handbook on the phenomenon. A systematic review of the literature was conducted in November 2018. Studies that were excluded were opinion-based, theoretical, or otherwise secondary sources. Some of these sources were highly cited and interesting publications but most failed to approach the topic with a consistent scientific methodology or were fundamentally based on theory-crafting rather than primary empirical evidence. The purpose of this study is to identify the lack of empirical data that is needed to provide the industry with the skill sets to facilitate change that is requested from the workforce to ensure the safety of the travelling public and airline employees.