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Airline workers ask for 'Flight Attendant Bill of Rights' for federal protection against abusive passengers

Atlanta Airport
Posted at 1:20 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 16:20:38-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Transport Workers Union, which includes flight attendants and essential airline workers, held an in-person call-to-action at Harry Reid International Airport on Wednesday.

The goal was to connect with fellow workers and passengers and educate them on TWU’s nationwide campaign, "Assault Won’t Fly," and the need to combat the rise in assaults by unruly passengers.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration logged nearly 6,000 reports of unruly passengers. Seventy-two percent of those incidents were because passengers didn't want to wear a mask, organizers said.

"Assault Won’t Fly" centers around the experiences of airline workers who have been intimidated, harassed or assaulted by abusive passengers. Additionally, this campaign calls on legislators, regulators and airline executives to take action and develop clear, consistent policies and safety measures to ensure all airline workers are protected on the job.

TWU members are calling this legislation — and also rallying support for — a “Flight Attendant Bill of Rights.”

Members say the bill should outline the necessary protections lawmakers should include in the legislation, such as universal safety protocols, comprehensive and clear guidelines for reporting assaults, regular training and self-defense courses for flight attendants, and increased support and transparency for airline workers who face abuse.

According to the TWU, existing measures to protect airline workers from unruly passengers are often ineffective, and passengers who assault workers usually face no real repercussions. Despite the FAA's "zero tolerance" policy, abusive passengers are often let on another flight immediately after assaulting or harassing a worker.

Wednesday’s action at Harry Reid International Airport is the latest in a series of in-person actions by airline workers and TWU members and reflects workers’ latest push to demand more protections on the job.

The campaign has also created an opportunity for airline workers to share their stories through the “Share Your Story” portal on the campaign’s website.

This tool gives workers a space to share their stories and get support, as many incidents go unreported by airline workers, many of whom are afraid of being blamed or ignored.

TWU says it intends to use responses to better track incidents, provide support and guidance to workers, and advocate for greater protections for all airline workers.