Survey: 85% of flight attendants have dealt with unruly passengers in 2021

Eighty-five percent of flight attendants say they have dealt with unruly passengers in the first half of 2021, according to a membership survey conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the largest U.S. flight attendants’ union. 

In addition, 58% said they have experienced at least five incidents this year. And, 17% said they have experienced a physical incident in 2021. 

The survey also found that 63% of flight attendants who said they had reported an incident to airline management did not receive follow-up. 

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“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,” AFA president Sara Nelson said in a prepared remark. “This is not just about masks as some have attempted to claim. There is a lot more going on here, and the solutions require a series of actions in coordination across aviation.” 

Nelson called on the FAA to keep its zero-tolerance policy for unruly passenger behavior that was instituted early this year. She also called on the Justice Department to file criminal charges against unruly passengers. So far this year, the FAA has received 3,615 reports of unruly passengers, including 2,666 involving face coverings. The agency has initiated 610 investigations and 95 civil enforcement cases. 

The survey was distributed to members through emails and promoted by the union on Facebook and Twitter. Almost 5,000 flight attendants from 30 airlines participated. 

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