Government assistance is essential for flight attendants dealing with aggressive passengers


Osmar Perez | The Ticker

Stacy Kim

The number of reports of unruly airline passengers has increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those reports, 2,786 of 3,810 reports this year involved travelers who refused to wear a mask, according to ABC News.

To stay safe from verbal and physical attacks from passengers, an increasing number of flight attendants have been attending self-defense training courses.

Although the courses offered to protect flight attendants are free, the government has not mandated them so flight attendants are left in charge of attending them on their time and paying for their travel. These classes prove to not be enough as reports continue, and  government intervention is needed to effectively handle violent passengers.

“The philosophy we teach always addressed unruly passengers and how to control them,” Jay Koury, supervisory federal air marshal in charge, said in an interview with ABC news.

Recently, “a Frontier Airlines passenger was taped to his seat after allegedly groping and assaulting flight attendants during a Miami-bound flight from Philadelphia,” CBS News reported.

The passenger ended up being charged with battery. However, the government can implement laws that work to control these kinds of scenarios.

Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, supports  enforcing federal laws against those who assault flight attendants when there is no police officer to stop them.

“What we need to do is have the DOJ also criminally prosecute and use the penalties including up to 20 years in prison for any one of these incidents,” Nelson said.

If passengers are aware that they will face punishments, the number of noncompliant passengers is likely to subside.

Another challenge flight attendants face these days is passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights. To control the spread of COVID-19 on transportation, a mask mandate that covers airports, as well as airplanes, buses, trains and shuttle buses connected to airports, has been extended through Jan. 18, 2022.

The mandate is expected to minimize the harm imposed on flight attendants by passengers. The best move to create a safe environment in airplanes would be to get everyone vaccinated and inflict stricter punishments on those who do not comply.