A survey of 5,000 flight attendants released last week confirmed what was recently published by the Federal Aviation Administration and many media reports: Violence in the sky is a reality for those whose jobs tend to fly passengers.
The Association of Flight Attendants survey showed that more than 85% of respondents had handled unshakable passengers when air travel took off during the first half of this year; 58% had experienced at least five confrontations this year; and 17% reported experiencing a physical incident.
Flight attendants reported being subjected to widespread verbal abuse, including from visibly intoxicated passengers, and challenges to efforts to apply federal mandates as masking rules. Many respondents reported aggressive incidents, including shooting, kicking seats, throwing rubbish at flight crew members, polluting the toilet in response to crew members' instructions and following flight crews through the airport to continue shouting and other harassment, according to the union's investigation. [1
A spokesman for the Swedish Transport Safety Agency said that in response to the "increase in steadfast passengers" the Agency is launching self-defense courses for flight attendants. The program was originally launched in 2004 in response to the 9/11 attacks, and the popularity of the initiative eventually diminished, he said.
The free four-hour classes are offered by flight attendants at 24 locations around the country and focus on defense and stripping techniques, the spokesman said.
Restricting the sale of alcohol on board – which some say has driven the violence – also continues, with several airlines banning the beverage cart, Baldanza said.
In response to more than 3,000 violent incidents already this year, the FAA announced on July 13 a new zero-tolerance policy, saying it will “take legal action against all passengers who assault, threaten, intimidate or disturb flight crew members. "The agency said it has historically addressed unwavering passenger incidents using a variety of methods, ranging from warnings and advice to civil penalties.
The air traffic controllers 'union says the FAA needs to do more, as 71% of pilots who submitted incident reports to airline management received no follow-up, and a majority did not observe their employers' efforts to address the steady increase in passengers, according to the union survey.
“This study confirms what we all know; vitriol, verbal and physical abuse from a small group of passengers is completely out of control and puts other passengers and flight crew in danger, says union president Sara Nelson in a statement.
"This is not just about masks that some have tried to claim. Much more is happening here and the solutions require a number of measures for coordination in aviation.