Washington – In the wake of harassment of passengers and staff on flights amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, members of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on Friday to call for a rise in disruptive and unruly airline passengers. Gave. Cause, effect on passenger and crew safety, and enforce US laws prohibiting such behavior.
The committee’s title at the hearing, “Disruption in the Skies: The Surge in the Air Rage and Its Effects on Workers, Airlines, and Airports” heard from staff witnesses including AFA International President Sarah Nelson and a flight attendant at American Airlines Teddy Andrews.
“The disruption in the cabin and the failure to follow the instructions of the crew pose a threat to the safety of the flight,” Nelson said during the hearing. “If we allow cabin disruption or distraction due to passengers’ disobedience to become a regular occurrence, we are in danger of missing signs of a coordinated attack. We cannot allow this behavior to become normal for this reason Alone. Every level of danger requires vigilance and scrutiny. We cannot be put in the place of accepting these distractions as a new normal.”
Aircraft seating configuration on a passenger jet. (Photo: Peter Titmus/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Since January, the Federal Aviation Administration has filed more than 4,300 undocumented passenger reports, leading to the issuance of more than $1 million in fines.
“At this point, I have lost count of the times when I was insulted or threatened in flight to do my job,” Andrews said at the hearing, describing an incident Andrews told a passenger. called racial slurs.
“I know I don’t deserve to be spoken to like this under any circumstances,” Andrews continued. “These days I come to work expecting some sort of disrespect or air rage. It seems like flight attendants have become the target of all kinds of frustrations that some people are feeling. Sometimes that’s what happens when passengers Disagree with airline or federal policies. Sometimes, alcohol boosts passengers. But above all, daily flight attendants are not being respected for the job we are trained to do.”
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Nelson referred to a union survey that found that more than 85 percent of all respondents dealt with unruly commuters in the first half of 2021.
The hearing comes on the heels of Delta Air Lines’ announcement on Thursday banning more than 1,600 people on its “no fly” list, and urging other airlines to share their lists.
In an internal memo obtained and reviewed by Granthshala television stations, the company said it made its decision in an effort to keep crew and customers safe.
“At Delta, we now have more than 1,600 people on our ‘no fly’ list, and we have submitted more than 600 restricted names to the FAA in 2021 as part of their Special Thrust Enforcement Program,” Delta told all flight attendants on Wednesday. have done.” . “We’ve also asked other airlines to share their ‘no fly’ lists to protect airline employees in the industry – everything we know is top of mind for you too. Not even a list of restricted customers works.” If that customer can fly from another airline.”
Earlier this year, the FAA proposed civil penalties ranging from $7,500 to $15,500 against four airline passengers who allegedly lost their jobs as flight attendants, despite instructions to comply with cabin policies and various other federal regulations. interfered with their ability to do so.
The FAA said airlines reported six incidents of disrupted passengers for every 10,000 flights last week. This is almost the same as the end of June but about half less than February and March. This is more than double the rate of 2.45 incidents per 10,000 flights during the last three months of 2020.
FAA figures show the spike began in late January, with several flights interrupted by people flying to a rally in Washington for then-President Donald Trump.
AFA is the flight attendant union organized by flight attendants for flight attendants. According to the union, the AFA represents approximately 50,000 flight attendants across 17 airlines, “acting as a voice for flight attendants at their workplace, in the industry, in the media, and on Capitol Hill.”
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.