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Flight Attendants Advocate on Capitol Hill on FAA Reauthorization

Date: March 23, 2023

The week of March 6, 2023 more than 60 Flight Attendant activists from airlines across our Union were in Washington, D.C. for Government Affairs 101 training and meetings with lawmakers to advance our careers. Flight Attendants talked with Congress and urged them to work swiftly to support our Flight Attendant priorities in the upcoming FAA Reauthorization Bill.

With that goal in mind we met with the offices of Congressmen/women and Senators. Some of the priorities for our Union are:

  • Stopping the Flag of Convenience Air Carriers - A “Flag of Convenience” business model permits airlines to establish operations in countries with lower labor standards. The AFA-CWA supports legislation that would prohibit “flag of convenience” practices from expanding to the aviation sector industry.
  • Ending Disruptive Passenger Abuse and Violent Incidences on Airplanes - Create a banned passenger list to be maintained by the TSA so that passengers banned for such behaviors are banned on every carrier. Legislation is necessary in order for this to be enacted. Also included in this Act would be a ban on to-go alcohol and require alcohol signage. Most passengers are unaware that by federal regulations they can be denied boarding if they appear intoxicated. The Bill would also direct the TSA to require a mandatory, advanced defense training program for air cabin crew members. This includes classroom and hands on training courses tailored for use in passenger aircraft. It would also require airlines to compensate crew members for their time attending the training program. The request also includes that the fines collected by the FAA from disruptive passengers be used to create a health and wellness fund that flight crews and passenger service agents can access to offset the cost of their medical bills, additional time off if needed, counseling, time spent testifying in court against their assailant.
  • Every passenger needs their own seat: eliminate the exemption for lap children - The FAA currently permits children under two years old to sit unbelted on their parents laps. The FAA, NTSB and independent researchers have all concluded that this is dangerous citing studies showing that lap children are at a higher risk of injuries caused by everything from falling from laps, turbulence and trauma incurred in a crash.
  • Smoke/fume event training and reporting - Cabin Air Safety Act of 2022 (being reintroduced in the 118th Congress) to direct the FAA to issue regulations requiring: airline worker training to document fume events, suitable sensors on aircraft to detect a variety of contaminants and fumes in real time and investigate bleed air events. The legislation also mandates that airlines provide flight crew, maintenance technicians and emergency response teams training on how to respond and identify the causes of fume events.

Other Flight Attendant priorities as a part of the FAA Reauthorization Bill include:

  • Oppose any efforts to expand preemption
  • Establish commercial aircraft temperature standards, collect data and report findings
  • Reform DOT marijuana testing protocols
  • Update aircraft emergency evacuation standards
  • Require airlines to educate Flight Attendants on the risks of radiation exposure
  • Require naloxone nasal spray to be in the EMK kits
  • Require the FAA to provide guidance and regulations for pumping (lactation) while on duty
  • Reduce carbon emissions from aircraft by supporting tax credits and R & D programs that encourage the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
  • Support recycling and green infrastructure airport programs.

We are grateful to our flying partners Monique Pfenninger and Colleen Donnellan-Dyer, both from Council 7 LHR, who shared the experience of their work on Capitol Hill while in Washington D.C.

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