Violence on an airplane at 30,000ft to any rational person is the last thing they need. Although violence on a train or in your motor vehicle is dangerous there is one thing with these two modes of transport that differs from being on an airplane, you can stop these modes of transport, get out or off them when it is safe to do so, even between stations or on a busy road.
Not so when you are thousands of feet in the air. Here you are truly trapped. The good news here though is that major airline violence very rarely happens.
Most self defence videos and articles concentrate on the terrorist angle when dealing with this issue, why? Because it sells, it gets people on training courses where they are taught to take down terrorists like James Bond.
But look at these facts of violent airplane incidents since 9/11
Terrorist incidents - 11
High-jacking - 13
Air rage - Hundreds, too many to count
You are more than likely going to be defending yourself against drunken passengers, psychologically affected passengers, egocentric passengers, medically affected passengers and physically affected passengers than you are a terrorist or highjacker.
When these air rage incidents turn violent they still have the possibility to be disastrous though.
Your security has to start even before you board the plane, on your arrival at the airport.
One of the best ways to find out about people is to chat to them, but first you need to use your eyes, observe those around you, we are back to the awareness game again.(See more on that in my second book).
when you are in the baggage/check-in line, going through security, shopping, having a meal or you are waiting at the gate then chat to people. You can get a good feel about people and the overall mood of those around you doing this. Their personal mood or mental state will help you to decide if they are someone you need to keep an eye on of they end up on your plane, or how about help if something does happen, would they be able to step in and help you?
Once again for any security professional, just like on the train I give my business card to cabin crew and if you fly on American Airlines give them one to pass onto any Air Marshal that may be on board, at least then they know there is help on board if they need it.
Some basic tips:
When booking your seat, book an aisle seat if you are of the mind to step in and help, if not book a window seat.
If you are not the type to step in and help then try to book your seat in the center section of the plane.
If you are the type to step in then if you cannot book your seat in first class, then book it as near to the front as possible.
Book any kids or your partner into the window and middle seat, it's easier to protect them there.
Carry a small tactical torch in your carry-on bag.
If you are the type to step in and help then don't drink too much alcohol.
All pretty basic yes?
One thing i will say is that you should not step in unless you are asked to by any member of the cabin crew. Not many airlines give their cabin crew self defence training, yes they get conflict management training to de-escalate a situation; but if it goes beyond that and things start to get violent then they will very rarely be able to cope.
if you step in before being asked you may well escalate the situation because of your actions.
Remember that just like on the train you will be fighting in a confined space, with an air rage passenger the object here is to control and secure the person so your physical capabilities have to reflect this.
In the next blog i will look at the terrorist and high-Jacking aspects of your in-flight security.
Do you implement your own security procedures when flying?
Do you profile passengers around you?
Do you carry helpful items in your carry on bag?