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Alcohol Plays Role in Many Air Rage Incidents

Source: 11 Alive
11Alive Staff, WXIA

People get on a plane for all kinds of reasons: work, a wedding, a family vacation or funeral. Mix all that with alcohol, cramped quarters and too much baggage and sometimes the skies aren’t so friendly.

According to a USA Today investigation, it often starts with a drink. One drink that becomes three or four, made worse by the altitude.

Peter Ivanhoff admits that the fun turned into a fight during his flight from Alaska to Oregon. According to an FAA report, it got so bad that the flight crew locked down the cockpit.

In a review of FAA reports, we found one quarter of fine-able incidents stemmed from alcohol use.

Federal investigators say Joe Hundley had been drinking when he used a racial slur and slapped a crying toddler. The baby’s mother was shocked.

Hundley’s attorney says he was flying to Atlanta to take his son off life support. Still, a federal judge gave him 8 months in prison.

But a disruption doesn’t just impact one person, it can impact the entire plane if it’s re-routed or delayed. Safety is always a concern. The FAA often uses fines as a deterrent, which can be as high as $25,000.

“Flight attendants are aviation’s first responders, and they expertly deal with conflict every single day,” said Sara Nelson, the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO.

Some say public shame is the best deterrent. Video posted on social media showed a woman forcibly being removed after crew members say she refused to turn off her cell phone.

Nelson has a few ideas on how to deter bad behavior.

“Perhaps they have to go through special hoops before they can even fly or to maybe be banned from flying for a certain amount of time,” Nelson said.

USA Today says the FAA issued nearly a million dollars in fines in just five years, but settled for about half of that. Flight attendants say they often turn to other passengers for help, hoping peer pressure will bring the person back in line.