President of the union of flight attendants: air rage incidents create a “hostile environment”

The head of the country’s main flight attendants union said an increase in unruly passenger incidents contributes to a “hostile environment” for the profession, ahead of a House subcommittee meeting on the matter on Tuesday.

“It used to be a really bad day when something bad happened at work, when you had an explosion on a plane,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). The Washington Post Monday.

“More and more we see this as a regular occurrence and it really hurts people,” she said.

Nelson to testify in Homeland Security House subcommittee hearing Tuesday with other leaders of union groups in the aviation industry.

According to Federal Aviation Association (FAA) data released last week, 5,114 incidents involving unruly passengers have been reported this year. The agency also imposed fines of $ 225,000 on passengers for these incidents.

Late last month, an American Airlines flight was hijacked after a passenger allegedly assaulted a flight attendant. And the FAA detailed several other physical and verbal assaults on the attendants.

Nelson said verbal assaults were becoming more and more personal, citing a July AFA-CWA study that found 61% of flight attendants said disruptive passengers used “sexist, racist or homophobic language.”

“The flight attendants were the target of a lot of anger and conflict when they put on their uniforms,” she said.

Nelson called on the Justice Department to “very publicly prosecute” bad actors and on the FAA to continue to impose fines and raise public awareness of air rage incidents.

A number of House Democrats have made a similar appeal to the attorney general Merrick garlandMerrick GarlandSouthwest employee hospitalized after alleged assault by federal grand jury indicted passenger Steve Bannon FAA imposes 5K fines on unruly passengers this year MORE in a letter earlier this month.

“It is well documented that our country has seen a sharp increase in confrontational behavior in the air and at airports, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” lawmakers wrote.

“We respectfully request that you immediately order federal prosecutors to devote the necessary resources to mainstreaming acts of violence,” the letter added.

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