So you lost a couple of inches of your turf when the guy in front of you lowered his seat back. For most of us, that’s just one of the minor annoyances we put up with in jetting around the sometimes not-so-friendly skies. But for others, perhaps after a particularly bad day, it’s enough to ignite serious yelling, even fights. They call it “air rage.”
Getting through the airport mobs can lead to frazzled nerves. Photo by Bob Schulman.
There was a time – not so long ago – when you hoped the passenger in front of you would recline his or her seat. If they didn’t, it was hard to get a good view of the movie screen (which at the time swung down from the ceiling over every sixth or so row). So if you were in, for example, the fourth row behind the screen, and the person in front of you was sitting straight up, you found yourself bobbing back and forth to see the lower part of the movie. And of course the person in back of you had to bob around, too, since you were blocking part of his or her view.
Back then, you never had to worry about having to sit next to someone with a cold. Or a 400-pound sumo wrestler. Or a crying kid. All you had to do was to hang around the airline counter at the gate where the agent was assigning seats. The way it worked was, passengers picked a seat from an outline of the plane on the wall behind the agent. If someone wanted, say, seat 10C, the agent pulled a little sticker marked 10C from the plane chart and stuck it on the passenger’s boarding pass.
So you could stand there and keep an eye on the seats assigned to undesirable fellow passengers, and then pick a seat for yourself someplace else on the plane. Or you could opt for a seat next to someone you might like to chat with during the flight.
Fast-forward to today, and those overhead drop-down screens have been replaced by our own little screens on the seat back in front of us (so we no longer have to do neck-bending acts to see the movie). Among other hi-tech wonders, rather than hovering around the ticket counter we can switch our seat assignments on the airline’s website up to the last minute on hand-held “smart” devices.
Now, if the techies can just come up with an antidote for air rage.