The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) decision to delay implementation of its new rule allowing small knives on planes has prompted renewed discussion about the plan and what it could mean for air travel security. But while most of the recent discussion has centered on the possibility that the knives could be used in an attempted hijacking, there is another element to consider: air rage.
In a discussion about the knife rule delay on our Facebook page, travel agent Elizabeth Smith Casarez noted, “This would be a nightmare for the flight attendants who already have enough on their hands dealing with unruly passengers.”
Incidents involving unruly passengers have been on the rise recently. According to a recent CNN report, statistics released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show a 29 percent rise in air rage between 2009 and 2010, and a 27 percent rise from the year before. The CNN report noted stress from the recent tough economic times and excessive consumption of alcohol as possible reasons for the rise in air rage.
Ironically, it is possible that our airport security system is also a contributing factor to angry fliers. In an op-ed blasting the proposed changes to the TSA’s policy on knives, flight attendant Tiffany Hawk noted that, while she does not support relaxing the restriction on knives, our aviation security system does need to be overhauled to be less stressful on travelers.
“Do you ever notice just how drastically people’s moods change after navigating a checkpoint at a major airport?” Hawk asks. “It’s shocking to watch travelers enter the line all smiley and jazzed about a vacation or career opportunity only to emerge exhausted, disheveled, angry and possibly late. I would even argue that, ironically, the current security system contributes to air rage, an increasing threat of its own. However, I don’t believe for one minute that being forced to check one’s sporting equipment is anywhere near the heart of the problem.”
Have you ever experienced air rage? How do you think we should go about balancing the need for security with a less stressful travel security system? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TravelAgentMagazine.