Want to steer clear of an ugly scene on a flight? Avoid these people

Passengers pass the time on an Alaska Airlines flight in August 2014.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Passengers screaming at each other over reclined seats. Fliers who have had one too many getting into a tiff with flight attendants. Travelers who get into shouting matches over cranking loud music in the cabin.

The incidents of disputes and unruly passengers on planes are on the rise, and if you want to avoid such trouble, stay clear of young men, people who are self-centered and travelers who have little experience flying on planes.

That’s the conclusion of a professor from Florida International University whose study found that passengers with such characteristics are more likely to cause unpleasant scenes.


“What I found was that more seasoned fliers learn the norms and expectations and etiquette of flying,” said Ryan C. Meldrum, a professor in the university’s school of criminal justice.

The study, based on data collected from 750 adults in the U.S., concluded that there is a link between certain characteristics and how likely they are to cause “imprudent airline passenger behavior,” which Meldrum said included cursing, passing gas and failing to wash hands after using the lavatory.

His suggestion? “What we could do is come up with a way of educating new fliers and inexperienced fliers to the norms and expectation of flying.”

The study comes a month after a trade group for the world’s airlines reported 10,854 incidents of unruly passengers took place in 2015, up 16% from the previous year.

The International Air Transport Assn. found that alcohol and drug use were involved in 23% of the cases, although the trade group said that the drugs and alcohol often were ingested by passengers before boarding.


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