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Gallup Poll: 'Air Rage' Misplaced on Flight Attendants

Aired July 6, 2000 - 2:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Flight attendants around the world are conducting what they call a "day of action" against "air rage." That's disruptive and violent behavior by passengers. Air crews handed out fliers asking for higher fines for violators.

Air rage is on the rise according to those who fly for a living.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBORAH WILK, ASSN. OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: We have anything from yelling or screaming at flight attendants, to pushing and shoving, to assaulting them in the galleys, in the galley areas, to breaking down cockpit doors and attacking the pilots while we're in flight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: In the U.S. alone, 500 air rage incidents were reported last year. This week, a Continental Airlines crew reported a passenger threw a can of beer at a flight attendant and bit a pilot on the arm.

Frustration fueled by alcohol sometimes sends airline passengers over the boiling point.

With a look at some interesting numbers on the rise in air rage, let's turn to Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Yes, Natalie, last year we did a fairly major poll asking fliers around the country what made them mad and what made them happy about flying. And we can revisit some of those numbers in light of the story you're just telling us about.

First of all, it is not the personnel themselves that fliers are mad at. I think that's a very important point to make. Even though they may be displacing their rage onto the attendants and gate agents, they're very satisfied with them, as you can see. These are fliers, when we asked this question: 88 and 87 percent said they were satisfied with flight attendants and gate agents.

What are people mad about? Well, not surprisingly, it's leg room, it's the food, it's ticket prices, it's the seat width. Those are the kinds of things that people say make them mad, or when a plane's full, obviously, that rage gets higher, then they take it out on the actual personnel themselves.

We can show you some other interesting data along the same idea. This was a question about you yourself having flier rage. And these are frequent fliers. And these numbers were startling to us when we asked it. About 54 percent said no, but nine percent said they personally feel rage frequently. And another 37 percent said they feel rage occasionally. That's a lot of fliers out there who are telling us, when we did this poll, they get upset and they get mad.

Now, have you been worried about another passenger? We asked fliers that question. And that was lower but still it was six percent said that they had felt threatened themselves by something somebody else was doing, i.e. somebody who was getting mad in the seat next to them.

Now you mentioned the alcohol issue. We did ask that question: Would you favor a total ban on booze on flights? You can see the answers there, about 35 percent say yes, 61 percent say no. Interestingly enough, Lou and Natalie, that's about the percent of teetotalers in the U.S. population. So it looks like if you don't drink, you're all in favor of not having alcohol; if you do, you want it still served. That's where the public is on this important issue. Back to Atlanta.

ALLEN: All right, Frank Newport. Thanks, Frank.

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