The union leader, who was on the job during one of the recent high-profile airline assaults, said that while there are some specific security measures in place at airports across the country to prevent these incidents from happening again, they need to be more widespread.
The “air rage hearing” is a congressional hearing where the union president of the flight attendants testified on airplane violence.
Sara Nelson, the powerful International President of the Association of Flight Attendants union, testified before Congress this afternoon about the high number of incidents of airplane violence against flight crews, warning that if the problem isn’t addressed, it could escalate into something far more serious and tragic.
Nelson spoke at the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security of the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. ‘On the Frontlines in Turbulent Times: Workforce Perspectives on the State of Transportation Security,’ was the focus of the hearing.
More than 5,000 allegations of disorderly conduct among airline passengers have been filed with the Federal Aviation Administration this year. Many have resulted in physical confrontations, spurred in part by the dispute about face masks but also by alcohol usage.
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“By 2021, we will have logged more disruptive airline passenger occurrences than we have ever seen in the history of aviation,” she claimed. “While the number of bad actors is minimal, the episodes of disruption have become so common that Flight Attendants question if their uniform will be a statement of leadership and authority in the cabin, keeping everyone safe, or a target for a violent assault every morning they put it on.”
The events have grown typical in certain ways, which Nelson finds reprehensible and argues sets a dangerous precedent.
“Due to the regularity of the incidents, some in the media have dubbed the disruptive outbursts and violent conduct a ‘new normal.’” “We just cannot tolerate that for our safety and security,” she said. “Flight attendants are aviation’s first responders, responsible for the passengers’ and crew’s safety and well-being. Flight attendants have been the final line of defense in aviation security for the last 20 years, since the horrific events of September 11, 2001. If we allow interruptions in the cabin or diversions caused by passengers’ refusal to follow crew orders to become commonplace, we risk missing indications for a concerted assault. Every degree of hazard requires awareness and close examination. We can’t be fooled into thinking that these diversions are the new normal.”
Nelson noted a poll from earlier this year that found that 85 percent of flight attendants had dealt with rowdy customers in the last year.
Mask compliance, drinking, periodic safety warnings, flight delays, and cancellations, according to flight attendants, are all prevalent variables in hostile passenger encounters. Many people said that numerous causes led to occurrences, implying a compounding impact and the possibility of reducing incidences.
Flight attendants said they were subjected to a barrage of verbal abuse, including from clearly inebriated passengers, people screaming and cursing in response to masked directions, and passengers who aggressively challenged flight crews seeking to guarantee adherence to federal standards.
“When crews are discouraged or delayed in completing safety and security obligations, aviation security is jeopardized,” she stated. “According to the survey’s findings, over half of the events may be avoided by recognizing difficulties on the ground or before to takeoff, posing a significant concern in the air.”
The FAA recommended 37 of the most serious physical attacks on crew members and passengers to the Department of Justice for federal prosecution on November 4th. As “the most effective method to dissuade bad actors and put a halt to the surge in disruptive passengers,” Nelson said the DOJ must move promptly on these events that have already been thoroughly reviewed by the FAA.
The “airline news” is a story about the President of the Flight Attendants Union testifying before Congress on airplane violence.
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