Airline cabin crew are increasingly concerned about their safety as a result of an increase in violence and disruption caused by passengers.
A spate of reports of runaway and violent passengers during the busiest period for the aviation sector since before the pandemic has emerged in recent weeks.
This summer has also seen almost constant reports of airport chaos, workers’ strikes over staff shortages – following mass layoffs during the pandemic – and weary passengers suffering delays, cancellations and lost luggage.
The chaos has gotten so bad that one flight attendant said she removes her uniform once work is done because she fears for her safety if she is recognized as a cabin crew member.
The anonymous international airline employee wrote a guest comment about her experience The guard.
Using the alias Meryl Love, the airline worker wrote that many passengers were “angry” at the disruption to their travel plans and that she often bore the brunt of their frustration.
She wrote: “He enumerates a litany of offenses committed by the airline: lost bags and strollers, delayed flights, a night at the airport while he jabbed his finger at me like I was the mastermind running it all had planned and orchestrated .
“It always amuses me when people talk to me like I’m the CEO: ‘Your company is a disgrace, how dare you treat people like that?’
“I wish, buddy. I wish. I’m just a very minor player with a very small salary, but it’s part of my job to take it, so I’ll do it.”
She adds: “As soon as I come out of the security turnstile, I take off my uniform.
“I used to leave it on for the way home, but now if you’re anywhere near the airport you’re an unofficial PR representative for the entire airline industry. I’m sitting on the subway and I hope nobody from the flight recognizes me.”
In recent weeks there have been numerous reports of violence and harassment of passengers, often fueled by alcohol.
On Tuesday, a Virgin Atlantic plane from Heathrow to Los Angeles was forced to make an emergency stop in Salt Lake City after a Brit was reportedly drunk and tried to “kick out of windows”.
Last week, a man on a Delta flight from LA to Orlando was accused of groping a teenage girl after reportedly mixing sleeping pills and alcohol.
Two weeks ago, a Brazilian man was arrested on board a Delta flight from Sao Paulo to New York after assaulting a flight attendant and a passenger.
Earlier this month, even one American admitted Jumping on an airline beverage cart mid-flightbefore undressing in the aisle of the plane that was forced to divert from Seattle to Charlotte in North Carolina due to the chaos.
Some cabin crew have chosen to skip work, fearing being caught in the air with runaway passengers.
George Connelly, flight attendant at Spirit Airlines, narrates insider: “As a collective, we voluntarily do without shifts, don’t come to work because we just don’t want to deal with all that stuff.
“[This] makes the problem even worse because they now have to call reserve crew members who take two or three hours to get to the airport.”
According to the US union Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), 2021 saw an unprecedented rise in disruptive passenger behavior as many pandemic-related travel restrictions were lifted around the world.
This travel boom coincided with a shortage of airline and airport staff, creating even more chaos.
In November 2021, union leader Sara Nelson told a Homeland Security hearing: “Each morning, flight attendants wonder if they’re going to put their uniforms on [they will have] a show of leadership and authority in the cabin to protect everyone, or [be] a target for violent attack.”
In AFA’s internal survey of 5,000 flight attendants, 85 percent of respondents said they had dealt with “unruly passengers” in the first six months of 2021.
Ms Nelson said: “While the number of bad actors is relatively small, incidents of disruption have been so pervasive.
“The Frequency of Events [has] prompted some media figures to describe the violent outbursts and behavior as a “new normal”.
“It’s something we just can’t accept for our safety.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/flight-attendants-fear-for-their-safety-amid-spike-in-disruptive-passengers-41873528.html Flight attendants “fear for their safety” amid surge in disruptive passengers