Greetings from Lewisham: wish we weren't here

AS THE "Virginia 12" returned to Britain yesterday to face police questions about a mass outbreak of "air rage", a leading aviation psychologist placed part of the blame for the rise in such incidents on bossy cabin crews and exaggerated claims by airlines.

The Irish holidaymakers who were thrown off a Jamaica-bound flight at Norfolk airport, Virginia, after an alleged drunken brawl landed at Gatwick airport at 9.35 yesterday morning.

After being questioned by immigration officers and police the dishevelled bunch were driven by coach to their caravan site at Lewisham, south-east London. The three O'Driscoll sisters, Priscilla, Elizabeth and Katrina, were reunited with their children. Outside the gates of their yard they pleaded their innocence. "We've been through an ordeal. Four days of rough justice," said Priscilla. "We are the victims here," said Katrina. "There's no sign on a plane to say you can't drink."

The impromptu press conference was broken up when their mother charged at photographers with an iron bar.

Meanwhile, Robert Bor, Professor of Psychology at City University in London, will argue in a new report that many air rage incidents occur because of what he terms "role confusion" by the flight attendants and check-in staff who consider cossetting passengers a low priority. "Cabin crew interactions with passengers appear to be the single greatest trigger of disruptive behaviour and it is possible that crew mismanagement of tense situations may make the incident worse," he argues.

Professor Bor's paper, "Unruly passenger behaviour and in-flight violence: a psychological perspective", will be published in the Travel Medicine International journal this month. He says:"There should be less emphasis in airline adverts invoking images of glamour, comfort and pampering. This disappoints and frustrates passengers whose expectations are not met."

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