Flight attendants have become ‘punching bags’ for public

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, discusses summer air travel across the U.S. and the pandemic's effect on airline workers and passengers.
4:23 | 06/22/21

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Transcript for Flight attendants have become ‘punching bags’ for public
to "Gma3." It's a challenging time for air travel as American airlines recently announcing the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights next month due in part to surging customer demand and staffing challenges and the skies have become less friendly. Airlines have reported over 3,000 cases of unruly passengers. Joining us to talk about what her members are confronting on the job is the president of national association of flight attendants. Sra Nelson, thanks for being with us. Give us a sense of what it's like to be a flight attendant these days. Well, we have never seen anything like this, and flight attendants are aviation's first responders, we remained on the job making sure that critical goods and supplies could get to our communities during this time. The delivery of mail and prescription drugs to people. The delivery of very critical personnel to help fight the virus and so, while we were doing all of that and worried about the safety of ourselves and our families during the pandemic we were also worried about our jobs, and now, here we are on the other side, people are coming back and getting vaccinated, getting back up in the skies and using flight attendants as punching bags for all of their angst over the last year. We all need a little help and we really want to encourage people to be helpers and not be taking out the frustrations. On the people around you. These issues of unruly passengers has to do with mask compliance and you see something else is at play here, people have that angst, something's built up, and people are wound a little tight right now. People are really having a tough time. Forgetting about how to act around each other. Feeling that frustration when they come to the skies and feeling all that angst from the past year and the temperature is just rising and conflict is a burst. They've been told that we are set up to be in conflict with each other in this country, and my experience as a 25-year flight attendant is that's not true. We have incredible examples of solidarity on the plane when passengers work together and that's typically what we experience on the job and this is just a totally different dynamic. We have more unruly passenger events in this year alone if we stay on track than we have had in the entire history of aviation, that's how difficult this is right now and how pervasive it right now. What do you say to any passengers out there? Well, look, let's be really clear, first of all, there are deep fines and penalties if you act out on a plane and we are there as aviation's first responders to keep you safe. Flight attendants give instructions, these are all things that we have to do to remain safe in aviation. So listen to our instructions and we have to come to the door of the airplane with the spirit that we're all in the together and we all just have to follow the rules and get along and, you know, make an extra effort to be a little more kind to each other. And just a few tips as we get back into the skies, make sure you're packing an empty bag. Remember too there's no smoking on planes and you might also want to pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something because not all the concessions are open at the airport. Eating is a good thing. Take care with alcohol. When we're in that pressurized cabin at 8,000 feet alcohol can affect us. Oufbtimes alcohol is contributors to behaviors that are unbecoming. So, make sure that you're watching out for that, too. Sara, on that point, some airlines have cut back, some have stopped, would you prefer airlines not serve alcohol on planes? We're recommending that airports and airlines pause alcohol sales for a period of time until we can get this under control. All right, well, we certainly wish you and the people you represent the very best and we're very grateful for all you have done and continue to do there up in the air and when we're on the ground as well. President of the association of flight attendants, Sara Nelson, thank you.

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