The Transportation Security Administration has relaunched self-defense courses for flight attendants – as airline workers report growing numbers of unruly passengers, many of whom are angry at masking demands.
The Federal Air Marshal Service teaches the one-day course, which had been interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, teaching flight attendants how to punch and even punch the eyes using a combat dummy.
“You might die,” a class in Sunrise, Fla. Was heard in a CNN clip that aired Thursday. “We must defend ourselves at all costs. “
A few hundred have signed up to take the course this year, the network said.
“I never want to use all of this,” Donna O’Neil told CNN. “But if I had to do it, I would definitely feel a lot more confident. “
Some 17% of flight attendants said they suffered a physical incident in the first half of 2021, according to an Association of Flight Attendants survey released on Thursday.
Of the 5,000 attendants surveyed at 30 airlines, 85% said they had dealt with unruly passengers – and 58% said they had experienced at least five incidents, according to the survey.
Interviewees cited respect for masks and alcohol as some of the reasons for the increase in aggression in the air. The reported incidents include shoving, throwing trash and “dirty” toilets in response to airline instructions, the association said in a press release.
“This investigation confirms what we all know, the vitriolic, verbal and physical violence of a small group of passengers is completely uncontrollable and endangers the other passengers and the flight crew”, declared the president of the association Sara Nelson in a statement.
“It’s not just about masks as some have claimed,” she continued. “There’s a lot more going on here and the solutions require a series of coordinated actions across aviation. “
There have been 3,615 incidents reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and a “record number of enforcement actions,” the association said.
The group is pushing for action, in particular by making permanent a policy of “zero tolerance” for bad behavior by travelers, which was implemented in March 2021.