Twenty years ago, every single person who came on our plane was completely on our team. But now, flight attendants have become punching bags for the public. — Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union
Twenty years ago, every single person who came on our plane was completely on our team. But now, flight attendants have become punching bags for the public. — Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union
Flight Attendants’ Hellish Summer: ‘I Don’t Even Feel Like a Human’
Air travelers have faced an unusually high number of disruptions this summer because of widespread labor shortages, bad weather and technical problems. Nearly a quarter of U.S. passenger planes between June and mid-August were delayed, while almost 4 percent of flights were canceled in the first half of August, according to data from Flight Aware, a flight tracking service. Spirit alone canceled nearly 2,500 flights between Aug. 1 and 15.

Flight attendants across the country say they are struggling to cope, facing not only these prolonged operational issues, but also an increase in aggressive passenger behavior. Nearly 4,000 unruly passenger incidents have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2021, a figure described by the agency as “a rapid and significant increase.”

Most of those reports deal with attendants enforcing rules on proper masking in the cabin, with passengers who range from careless to belligerent, and at times verbally or physically abusive. Shaky, vertical footage of brawls and insults are now a familiar staple on social media.

... In interviews with more than a dozen attendants from major and regional carriers, crew members said they were getting squeezed on both sides — from passengers and the airlines. They described regularly working shifts of more than 14 hours, being assigned up to four or five flights a day, not being given sufficient time to sleep and being deterred from taking leave if fatigued or unwell.


The tense situation in the air this summer has led many attendants to say that they feel exhausted, afraid for their personal safety and, in some cases, concerned that the situation could turn dangerous.

A spokeswoman for Airlines for America, a trade group, said its member airlines “recognize the importance of prioritizing the safety and well-being of all employees, who are the backbone of our industry,” and “comply fully with robust F.A.A. regulations, which include stringent rest requirements and limitations on duty, as well as with all federal policies.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union that represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, noted that the difference in passenger response to the pandemic compared with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been “night and day.”

Twenty years ago, “every single person who came on our plane was completely on our team,” she said. But now, flight attendants have become “punching bags for the public.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/26/travel/flight-attendant-burnout.html