Flight Attendants 'Sleepless in Dallas'
March 30, 2005
Unique ‘Fatigue Summit’ Unites Hard-Worked Employees
WASHINGTON - More than 30 officers and members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, who fly with 11 different airlines, joined with flight attendants from across the country in a Dallas suburb today for a landmark summit to discuss the growing problem of flight attendant fatigue. With airlines slashing aircrews to compensate for economic losses, flight attendants are required to work shifts as long as 18 hours, posing problems for the hard-worked employees.
"This is a major safety issue for flight attendants nationwide," said AFA President Patricia Friend, who led the AFA contingent. "In an era of heightened security, we cannot afford to be exhausted on the job."
The Federal Aviation Administration in 1996 implemented the Flight Attendant Duty and Rest rules, requiring 8- and 9-hour rest periods. But those "rest periods" include all the transportation to and from the airports, plus the meals and preparation for bed at night.
"Flight attendants end up with only five or six hours to sleep, and oftentimes less," Friend said. "Airlines are cutting every corner to keep flight attendants on duty, and that’s both affecting our health and raising our concerns over our ability to properly safeguard our passengers."
The Fatigue Summit was co-hosted by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (American Airlines) and Transport Workers Union Local 556 (Southwest Airlines) at the APFA headquarters in Euless, Texas. The 11 airlines represented by AFA members are United, US Airways, America West, Hawaiian, Alaska Air, AirTran, Mesa, Independence Air, Atlantic Southeast, PSA and American Eagle.
"It's a measure of the importance of this issue for flight attendants that all the major flight attendant unions are developing a joint action plan," Friend said. "We have much in common and, working together, we can achieve more for all our members than by acting separately."
More than 46,000 flight attendants join together to form AFA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.