Flight attendants report high frequency of unruly passengers – .

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Flight attendants report high frequency of unruly passengers – .


DALLAS (AP) – Nearly one in five flight attendants say they have witnessed physical incidents involving passengers this year, and their union is calling for criminal charges against those who act on planes.

A union investigation confirms what airlines and federal officials have said: There has been an increase in unruly passengers this year, who are turning violent at times.

The most common trigger is when passengers refuse to follow the federal requirement to wear face masks during flights, according to the Association of Flight Attendants investigation. Alcohol is the second most important factor, with flight delays also playing a role, according to the union.

The union said nearly 5,000 flight attendants responded to its survey from June 25 to July 14 and 85% said they had encountered an unruly passenger at least once this year. The union said 17% said they saw a “physical incident” including touching, slapping or hitting a flight attendant or other passenger.

Some said they were cursed or insulted, and others said they were followed through the airport and harassed after the flight ended, said the union, which represents flight attendants from United, Alaska, Spirit and several. small carriers.

Airlines have banned a few thousand people during the life of the mask rule, and the Federal Aviation Administration has announced proposed fines against dozens of people. But union president Sara Nelson said more passengers should face criminal charges.

“When people risk jail for acting on a plane, suddenly we see sobers, and we need to sober up,” union president Sara Nelson told reporters.

A few cases have led to criminal charges, and crews sometimes ask police to meet the plane when it lands. In May, a 28-year-old woman was arrested for felony in San Diego after video showed a young female passenger punching a Southwest flight attendant in the face. Such cases are usually filed by local prosecutors – the FAA does not have the power to prosecute criminal proceedings.

The FAA said this week that airlines have reported more than 3,600 cases of unruly passengers this year – numbers have not been kept for previous years. Almost three-quarters were about mask disputes. The agency announced dozens of proposed fines, the largest of which was $ 52,500 for a man who attempted to open the cockpit door and then struck a flight attendant on a Delta Air Lines flight in December.

The FAA said it was investigating another 600 cases this year, nearly double the number of investigations initiated in 2019 and 2020 combined. In January, FAA administrator Stephen Dickson announced a “zero tolerance policy” in which passengers can face immediate enforcement action instead of warnings.

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