As safety professionals and first responders, Flight Attendants are tasked with handling emergencies and caring for thousands of passengers every day. However, study after study show Flight Attendants are impacted by fatigue on a regular basis, negatively affecting their ability to perform safety functions in an emergency.
But nothing has been done. There aren’t adequate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) fatigue protections for Flight Attendants.
While Flight Attendants work the same or similar schedules as pilots and do the majority of their work on their feet, they still don’t have any of the pilot fatigue and rest protections. The IAM is calling on Congress to include a Fatigue Risk Management Plan to help examine fatigue factors with real-time evidence and information for crew members to help them avoid becoming fatigued, along with 10 hours rest for Flight Attendants in the next FAA Reauthorization Bill.
“A 10 hour minimum rest for Flight Attendants would harmonize rules with the airline pilot rest requirement and with international recommendations for duty and rest,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger in a letter to Congress.
News reports have shown Flight Attendants saving the lives of hundreds of passengers on Air France in Toronto, US Airways on the Hudson, Asiana Airlines in San Francisco and British Airways in Las Vegas. Even aside from those extreme evacuations, all sorts of emergencies take place on a daily basis, whether it’s putting out a fire in the galley, administering CPR on a passenger or safely handling a decompression event. In any of these scenarios, Flight Attendant fatigue could have a fatal result, and without FAA protections in place, it’s just a matter of time before it happens.
This isn’t going to be easy. Flight Attendants are up against airlines that are raking in record breaking profits and spending millions lobbying Congress against fatigue protection for Flight Attendants. This is a perfect example of corporate greed, putting profits ahead of passenger safety. But what the IAM has that the airlines don’t are thousands of voices. It’s time for IAM members to stand up together and demand that our Congressional representatives take this proven safety risk seriously.