When I travelled for a living, my boss suggested we bring a little treat for our flight attendants. Although I think my boss suggested it to earn favors, I didn’t have favor-earning-treat money, so I’d just pick up a local delicacy because I figured the attendants had to put up with so much crap. They seemed to appreciate the thought, though, and the non-airport food. Turns out I should have gone bigger, because those poor folks are having a hell of a time at 10,000 feet. Passengers have become so unruly and combative post-pandemic, that the TSA will be training flight attendants in self-defense to subdue anyone who poses a threat to themselves or those around them.
Flight attendants are no strangers to unruly passengers. But with the number of people acting up on flights increasing, some have started to learn self-defense.
The Transportation Security Administration is aiming to train hundreds of flight attendants in self-defense over the next few months. The TSA opted to resume the half-day course created in 2004 after putting it on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic as incidents on planes increase.
Carrie, a flight attendant who took a class in the Miami area, told CNN that it’s important for her and her colleagues to be as prepared as possible for physical altercations.
“You get on a plane full of people and some of them are not very happy and you just never know what’s going to happen,” she said.
During the training, flight attendants are taught a slew of skills to help keep themselves and others out of harm’s way. Learning to strike, stomp and subdue a potential attacker tops the list.
Participants in the training also practiced combatting an individual with a deadly weapon, like a knife. Going for the attacker’s eyes and striking them with an elbow is also taught.
“You are going to possibly die. You need to defend yourself at all costs,” an instructor told the trainees in Miami.
A recent survey from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA detailed the depth of the problem. According to Conde Nast Traveler, 85 percent of flight attendants said they have dealt with an unruly passenger within the last year.
The study also showed 58 percent of those surveyed experienced at least five incidents in the first half of 2021 alone. Of the more than 5,000 individuals across 30 airlines polled between late June and early July, 61 percent of those surveyed said passengers had used sexist, racist, or homophobic slurs against them at some point.
“This survey confirms what we all know, the vitriol, verbal, and physical abuse from a small group of passengers is completely out of control, and is putting other passengers and flight crew at risk,” Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA’s president, said in a statement last Thursday.
I have to believe this is further self-defense training. Maybe someone who is, was or knows someone in the flight industry can add some insight, but surely some form of self-defense is a part of basic training? People have been self-medicating due to a fear of flying for years, be it drugs or alcohol. And Spring Breakers aren’t known for their decorum. But it really does sound like it’s gotten worse since the country has reopened. I can see why they’ve resumed more intense training. Last month a woman had to be duct-taped to her seat for the safety of the entire flight because she kept trying to open the plane door. Just this week an entitled douchebag groped and assaulted the flight staff and had to be duct-taped to his seat to restrain him. The victims, btw, were suspended. Fortunately, their union got involved and Frontier reinstated the crew and threw their support behind the staff, which they should have done from the beginning.
I feel like there’s a strong conspiracy to prove we cannot handle returning to life as we once knew it. We’re offered a vaccine for a deadly virus and half the population refuses to take it. We’re allowed to dine out and enjoy music and people pack themselves like sardines, throwing every precaution out the window. We can finally travel and folks star punching out the flight staff. People have taken crazy pills. Those numbers in the article are jaw-dropping. Over half of those surveyed had issues just in the first half of this year alone? We keep talking about the studies that will come out about the impact this pandemic had on us, obviously the psychological ramifications are much deeper than we had any idea. Sheesh, being trapped in an enclosed space is the one thing we should be able to handle at this point. Leave the poor flight staff alone. They have enough to deal with in mask management alone.
Photo credit: Photos by Lukas Souza, ismail mohamed – SoviLe and NeONBRAND on Unsplash
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