The Czar loathes, as you know, the media, particularly when they attempt to discuss scientific stories they haven’t really studied.Today, we find another example: a story is circulating around the news wires (many of these stories were written by reading previous stories, making them further removed than the actual study) that explains—somehow—why air rage incidents are caused by first class travel.
Yes: air rage, more or less, is caused by the very presence of a first class section on an airplane.
ABC News has picked up the piece and offers absolutely no information on why this is: merely a collection of anecdotes about how unpleasant coach or economy can be.
Researchers examined more than 1,500 flights and found that having to walk through a first-class cabin meant a flight was 11 times more likely to have an “air rage” incident. By looking at other models on how delayed flights impacted behavior on board, they found that merely having a first-class cabin on board meant the odds of having an “air rage” incident was the same as if the flight had been delayed for nine and half hours.
Here are some other facts: 100% of flights with a first class requires that passengers have to walk through a first-class compartment. This probably explains why a first class section is 11 times more likely than flights that don’t have passengers moving through a first class section.
You can figure out for yourselves why first class is in the forward of the airplane: it’s closer to the jet bridge, closer to the ovens, and so on, and makes more sense for the airlines to put them there.
But it gets dumber:
“When they close the curtains between the cabins or they remind economy passengers to not go into forward cabin” or bathroom, DeCelles told ABC News, “it reminds people that they’ve paid hundreds of dollars for this experience,” and are still denied amenities.
“They were baking cookies in the first class cabin and it’s like they will never have that in economy,” Decelle said.
There we go: this isn’t about airlines and seating and logistics: it’s about leftist Class Struggle. The have-nots, who didn’t pay for the upgrade, wanting the same niceties as those who did.
The piece concludes with a totally unreasonable suggestion by someone that airlines can have coach passengers board in the middle of the plane—which as you can figure out, requires the jet bridge to be moved after first class boards (adding to the loading time of the plane) and somehow configure the jet bridge to allow passengers to board from the wing of the plane.
So what does the actual study say? Well, it’s a hot mess of class struggle and open envy, with the abstract containing this gem of a quote: “We use a complete set of all onboard air rage incidents over several years from a large, international airline to test our predictions. Physical inequality on airplanes—that is, the presence of a first class cabin—is associated with more frequent air rage incidents in economy class. ”
In other words, we are basing this on anecdotes.
Here are some thoughts:
- More passengers sit in coach than sit in economy; as a result, we should expect economy class passengers to have more outbursts than first class passengers.
- Most planes have first class sections. Some airlines do not. We do not see an absence of air rage incidents on Southwest Airlines, for example, despite its Marxist utopia of seating.
- No other causes for air rage are analyzed. Is it the claustrophobic nature of air travel? A pressurized air cabin? Recirculated air? The inability to move freely out of cramped, unnatural seating positions? The stress of travel and its delays?
- How often are first class passengers involved in air rage as a percentage of the aircraft population? What other differences could explain a delta between the two?
- Maybe it’s the existence of coach that makes people nuts. Have you tested that?
The point of course is that this paper does not attempt to acknowledge that correlation does not equal causation, that anecdotes are inherently subject to confirmation bias, that the use of socioeconomic buzzwords like “social microcosm” and “class-based society” suggests cherry picking to advance a preferred political viewpoint.
Shame on the media, yet again, for even considering this a story. It’s more of a Bernie Sanders-style rant with bigger words.
Airlines are of course addressing the free market: you want nicer amenities, you pay for it. Frankly, first class isn’t a hell of a lot nicer anymore (it sure isn’t worth the cost), although the seats are larger and softer. Additionally, the free market reminds you that if you don’t want to travel on a plane with first class, don’t.