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Air Rage Townhall – Chicago

Date: October 1, 2021

It seems that every day, there’s a news story about air rage where a passenger is insulting, abusing, or assaulting a Flight Attendant or member of the flight crew aboard the plane, or doing the same to Airport Operations Personnel or Airport Concessions workers on the airports.

A recent survey conducted by our AFA-CWA International office found that 85% of Flight Attendants dealt with unruly passengers and “nearly 1 in 5 experienced physical incidents since the start of this year.”   Not only Flight Attendants, but Customer Service personnel and those who come into contact with the traveling public are also taking a lot of abuse.

As Flight Attendants and working people, we just want to go to work, do the job to earn our pay, and then go back home at the end of the day in the same condition we arrived at work.   We don’t expect to be abused, threatened, or physically attacked for doing our jobs.  

In response to the pandemic driven uptick in air rage incidents, the Chicago Federation of Labor Airport Labor Committee conducted an Air Rage Townhall on Wednesday in which AFA Local Council 8 – Chicago President Scott Pejas participated.   The event featured comments from other local union leaders, rank and file members, elected officials and other leaders in aviation to discuss solutions in dealing with passengers who don’t want to obey FAA safety rules, particularly mask-wearing.

Many who participated in this Air Rage Townhall agreed that “federal help is needed now.”

In addition to increased fines and jail time, many of the participants are calling for legislation that prevents passengers banned on one airline from flying on a different one.   “With how things are now, a passenger banned from one airline is currently free to book their next flight with another airline stated Scott Pejas, Council 8 Chicago President.   “We cannot have you flying, being banned on one airline, then turning around the next day and buying the ticket on another.”

Representatives from the unions also raised concerns about the potential safety and security vulnerabilities created by unruly passengers, saying that a violent passenger could create a distraction for potential terrorists or hijackers to exploit, according to Chicago Sun-Times.

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