The Transportation Security Administration will once again offer self-defense courses for flight attendants and pilots as the airline industry faces an increase in cases of unruly passengers and sometimes violent behavior on flights.
The return to classes comes after the coronavirus pandemic prevented crew members from receiving training for more than a year.
The Federal Aviation Administration has documented more than 3,000 reports of unruly passengers on flights so far this year, and 2,350 of those cases were related to disputes over wearing masks. It has opened investigations into 487 of those cases, more than triple the 146 cases that were investigated in 2019.
“With the increase in unruly passenger incidents, the TSA remains committed to equipping flight crews with another tool to keep our skies safe,” the agency said in a statement.
A 2017 agency training video shows crew members learning to physically control people and defend themselves, using mannequins to practice nudging, nudging and kicking. foot in the groin.
The training is designed to help crew members deal with tense and violent situations with passengers. Crew members learn to “identify and deter potential threats and, if necessary, apply self-defense techniques against attackers,” the agency said.
A very watched video recorded in May showed a woman punching a flight attendant in the face on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego. This month, a flight attendant on leave took control of the public address system, then battled the crew members on a Delta Air Lines flight.
In May, four people faced $ 70,000 in civil fines for clashes with airline crews over mask requirements and other safety instructions, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We will not tolerate interfering with a flight crew and the performance of their safety duties,” said Steve Dickson, the agency administrator, on Twitter.
The FAA said this week that eight passengers who recently displayed unruly and dangerous behavior were facing fines of $ 9,000 to $ 22,000. Most of the fined passengers refused to wear masks, with some assaulting crew members and other passengers.
As of June 22, the FAA announced that it had proposed $ 563,800 in fines against unruly passengers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said wearing masks is still required when traveling by plane, bus, train and other forms of public transportation.
Darby LaJoye, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said that while the crew members hope that self-defense tactics will never be necessary, “it is essential for everyone’s safety that they are well. prepared to handle situations as they arise “.
After the September 11 attacks, Congress made self-defense training mandatory, she said.
“Some airlines have complained about the cost, and before the program could be implemented, it was changed to become a voluntary training run by air marshals,” said LaJoye.
The training is free for crew members, lasts four hours and is voluntary, the TSA said.
Ms LaJoye, who took the course, said it should be mandatory for all crew members, especially as cases of unruly passengers are on the rise.
“It should also send a message to the public that these events are serious and that the flight attendants are there to ensure and direct the safety and security of everyone on the plane,” she said.