Rise in acts of plane-related violence shed light on something bigger: modern air travel is a perfect example of a situation in which human status is highly visible

A doctor is forcibly removed from a United flight, losing two teeth and gaining a concussion as he’s pulled down the aisle; a whole family with young children is dragged off by Delta; a near-riot breaks out at Fort Lauderdale airport. Air rage may be to the 21st century what hysteria was to the 19th: a window into the sickness of our society.

Modern air travel is a perfect example of a situation in which human status is highly visible: it can be seen in everything from how the rich can pay to cut security lines to the way everyone else has to wait while those who have “earned status” board first. And then, of course, there’s the long walk through the cushy first-class cabin to a claustrophobic middle seat at the back of “torture class”.

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