Flight attendants worry about fighting passengers over mask orders, union president says

Flight attendants worry about fighting passengers over mask orders, union president says

Sarah Nelson, international president of the Flight Attendants Association of Flight Attendants, told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday that flight attendants who enforce flight attendants on board flights are concerned about physical assaults on passengers. .

Nelson’s remarks come just days after the Transportation Security Administration announced it would double fines for passengers who refuse to comply with the federal mask mandate for air travel. The union president said the updated TSA policy could help resolve more mask disputes at airports, reducing problems for flight attendants on the plane.

“We worry every day when we go to work and put on this uniform, are we the target and got punched in the face today,” Nelson said.

Nelson said flight attendants have long been responsible for maintaining in-flight safety rules and regulations, but conflicts have escalated over the mask’s mandate. The Federal Aviation Administration said on July 7 that mask requirements covered 75% of its undocumented passenger complaints since early 2021.

Under the revised TSA tariff structure, first-time offenders will face a fine of $ 500 for those who disobey a mask order. Anyone who violates the warrant more than once will be fined $ 3,000 by the agency.

A United Airlines flight attendant participates in a crew member self-defense training program in Chantilly, Virginia. In response to the explosion in flight incidents, the US Air Marshals are now offering self-defense courses to flight attendants.

Pete Marovich | Washington Post | Getty Images

When asked if she would support the need for a vaccine for airline employees and passengers, Nelson said flight attendants “overwhelmingly” supported the vaccine’s mandate. Nelson said any vaccine mandate should include union cooperation and include the essential religious and medical exemptions outlined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines made vaccinations mandatory for their employees in August, while Frontier Airlines and Alaska Airlines implemented COVID testing requirements for all unvaccinated staff. Delta Air Lines has increased health insurance premiums by $ 200 and implemented weekly COVID tests for unvaccinated workers, and Alaska Air and American Airlines have said they will pay unvaccinated workers during their COVID quarantines. will stop.

“Everyone needs to get vaccinated, and this is the only way to end this pandemic,” Nelson said. “It’s the only way to get back the freedoms we had before we started.”

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