July 6 -- Government officials and airlines are failing at efforts to fight air rage, and that's angering the people who have to deal with the consequences, airline labor groups say.
The Association of Flight Attendants, the nation's largest union for flight attendants, says Federal Aviation Administration officials, the Justice Department and airlines are not doing enough and gives them all failing grades in a "report card" released today.
"Our U.S. airlines have failed to promote cabin safety over their profits," Patricia Friend, head of the flight attendants' organization, said today. "They have failed adopt training guidelines issued by the FAA, they've failed to take the full responsibility for these air rage incidents, and they've failed to support workers who are victims of air rage."
She said that there were 4,000 air rage incidents documented last year, but that only a handful of problem passengers had been fined.
Day of Action Against Air Rage
The report today coincides with the second annual Day of Action Against Air Rage — a campaign sponsored by several airline workers' unions.
The report card, an assessment of air rage incidents, is intended to bring attention to what the unions say is government neglect in the face of a rising number of air rage incidents. One reason officials underestimate the air rage problem, the AFA says, is that many incidents are not reported.
"I think it happens more often than the public would like to believe it happens, but the problem is nobody's doing anything about it. That means the airlines," customer service representative Jean Lebo said.
The AFA complains federal officials have concealed the magnitude of the problem by only reporting incidents that lead to law enforcement involvement.
Because airlines are not required to report every instance, there is a great discrepancy in rage statistics between the AFA and the FAA. Citing the Air Transport Association, AFA officials say there are approximately 4,000 air rage incidents a year. The FAA says only 314 clashes were reported last year. In 1998 and 1999, there were 281 and 306 incidents reported, respectively.