Union leader Sara Nelson told CNBC that the number of unprecedented incidences of misbehavior from passengers on planes this year was unprecedented this year.
“This is an environment we’ve never seen before. And we can’t wait,” the CWA Flight Attendants Association president said in the “Squawk Box.”
Such behavior has become “A complete idiot,” added Nelson, whose union represents about 50,000 crew members on more than a dozen airlines. “It̵7;s a constant fighting attitude … It has to stop.”
Nelson’s comments came in the wake of a violent confrontation that resulted in a Southwest Airlines flight attendant sustaining facial injuries and the loss of two teeth, in a statement to NBC News earlier this week. Southwest said passengers “Repeatedly ignored the standard instructions on the plane. and become verbal and physical abuse upon landing.”
A 28-year-old woman was charged with a battery misconduct in the incident. which happened on a Sacramento to San Diego flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday it had received about 2,500 reports of unruly passenger behavior since Jan. 1. About three-quarters were related to non-compliance with the federal mask mandate. due to the coronavirus epidemic
That’s more than 20 times more than what would normally be recorded throughout the year, Nelson told CNBC. and expressed disappointment that in-flight health protocols were viewed as “Political Issues”
Federal mask requirements are in the books until September 14, and the FAA intends to maintain a zero-passenger tolerance policy for as long as they are in effect.
Although airline travel has increased in recent months due to more coronavirus vaccinations. TSA checkpoint data shows travel remains noticeably below 2019 levels.
“Usually what the flight attendants do When we see conflicts happen on planes. We are trained to reduce violence. We look for our assistants,” Nelson said. However, she said the passenger mix was different from the pre-COVID period.
“It’s very difficult when you don’t have people on a regular plane. who knows the program which is our common people At least it puts pressure on peers. but also try Calm down these events,” she said.
Nelson said the increased message about the consequences for passengers acting like FAA fines would be helpful. This includes only in-flight messages from the flight captain. But it also includes messages throughout the airport, she said.
Temporary restrictions on alcohol sales would also be helpful, Nelson said.
“Many times these incidents are exacerbated by alcohol. Therefore, we ask governments and airlines to Make sure they don’t sell alcohol at this time. Because that only adds to the obvious uncontrollable problems.”