Flight attendants are brushing up on their fight skills as clashes with unruly passengers become more commonplace in the not-so-friendly skies.
The Transportation Security Administration has relaunched self-defense courses for flight attendants — as airline workers report an increasing amount of unruly passengers, many of them angry about masking requirements.
The Federal Air Marshal Service teach the one-day course, which had been paused because of the coronavirus pandemic, instructing flight attendants how to punch and even eye-poke using a fight mannequin.
“You are going to possibly die,” an unnamed instructor is heard telling a class in Sunrise, Florida in a CNN clip that aired Thursday. “You need to defend yourself at all costs.”
A few hundred are enrolled to take the course this year, the network stated.
“I don’t ever want to use any of this,” Donna O’Neil told CNN. “But if I had to, I certainly feel much more confident.”
Some 17 percent of flight attendants said they had experienced a physical incident in the first half of 2021, according to a poll by the Association of Flight Attendants released Thursday.
Of the 5,000 attendants polled across 30 airlines, 85 percent said they had dealt with unruly passengers — and 58 percent said they’d experienced at least five incidents, the poll stated.
Those polled cited mask compliance and alcohol as some of the reasons for the increasing in-air aggression. Reported incidents include shoving, throwing trash and “defiling” restrooms in response to airline instructions, the association stated in a news release.
“This survey confirms what we all know, the vitriol, verbal and physical abuse from a small group of passengers is completely out of control, and is putting other passengers and flight crew at risk,” association President Sara Nelson said in a statement.
“This is not just about masks as some have attended to claim,” she went on. “There is a lot more going on here and the solutions require a series of actions in coordination across aviation.”
There were 3,615 incidents reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and a “record number of enforcement actions,” the association stated.
The group is pushing for action, including making permanent a “zero tolerance” policy for traveler bad behavior that was implemented in March 2021.