As flight attendants deal with more and more disruptive passengers on board, they just want you to do one thing: be kind.
Despite the new variant of the coronavirus, this holiday season is expected to be a busy one--especially for airports. Unlike the last two years, many folks are looking to make the journey to visit their friends, family and other loved ones located across the country, just in time for Christmas and New Year's. Flight attendants, predicting the traffic that is bound to overwhelm airlines, have thus shared a laundry list of things they would like you to know in case you are traveling anytime soon. In an interview with CNN, Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, explained what to expect. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA represents an estimated 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines.
"You may have seen news reports on the disruptive passengers or conflicts on board airlines this year," she explained. "There have been more than 5,000 disruptive passenger reports sent to the Federal Aviation Administration since the start of this year. That's more disruptions in 2021 than the entire 31-year history of recording such behaviors. And we're not even done with the year yet!" Therefore, Nelson shared what flight attendants want us to know about disruptive passengers and more ahead of the busy travel season.
Holiday travel season has begun! If it’s been a while since your last flight, you might need a little help from our friends. Traveling abroad for the holidays? Be sure to follow our DHS sibling @CBP for info on traveling to or from your international destinations. #FollowFriday pic.twitter.com/yiFnMaxTZd— TSA (@TSA) December 10, 2021
She said, "First, it's very likely a lot of people are traveling for the first time since the pandemic started. And they have forgotten, or just don't know, that air travel has a whole set of rules to keep everyone safe. You have to go through security and practically undress to show that you're not a threat. You can't smoke--we did that ages ago. Everyone has to wear their seat belts and put their seats and tray tables up." There are also new rules as a result of the pandemic. Nelson continued, "They also have to wear a mask from the moment they set foot in the airport until they leave the next airport at the end of their journey. And by the way, that's no longer an airline policy, it's been a federal requirement since February."
My Southwest flight attendant just announced “listen nobody likes the masks but you agreed to it like 3 times before you got on this flight so if you’re not wearing one you’re just a liar” and honestly she’s my new hero.— Dustin Nickerson (@DustinNickerson) December 12, 2021
Disruptive passengers affect a flight attendant's ability to do their job. "Before 9/11 we were first responders to safety and health emergencies on board. But after 9/11, we also became aviation security's last line of defense against terrorism," Nelson explained. "These disruptions on board that have been taking place, not only are they a threat to the crew and you, the flier, due to the possibility of people getting hurt directly in these violent outbursts, but they are distracting to the flight crew. They are potentially putting us in a position of missing cues for other threats, or larger threats, such as a coordinated attack." These situations can also be harmful to other passengers. Hence, she wanted to remind passengers why flight crews take these incidents so seriously.
Stop. Serving. Alcohol. On. Planes. https://t.co/qoNyJmpsSZ— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 10, 2021
In the unfortunate scenario you find yourself faced by a disruptive passenger, Nelson recommends removing yourself from the situation. She shared, "That may be impossible because you're seated and there's no way to get around it. Move your child to the window or wherever is as far away from the action as possible. Try to cover your kids and call for help." However, what she hoped for most was empathy from passengers. "I just cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take a few moments to talk with your family and think about bringing kindness and patience with you," she asserted. "If you are being a good witness and being aware and looking to be a helper, that will create a tone that will help to make your experience much better."