Congress Wants Airlines to Have Self-Defense Training for Crew

Two key members of Congress have sent letters to the four major domestic airlines, telling them to consider backing self-defense training courses for their flight crews as unruly passengers continue an onslaught of physical and verbal abuse.

Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, were behind the letter sent to the CEOs of American, Delta, United and Southwest airlines.

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Thompson and DeFazio urged the airline leaders to require flight crews take the Transportation Security Administration’s Crew Member Self Defense Training Program, according to Reuters News Service.

The amount of passenger violence has not abated and, in fact, has only grown since last year, fueled in large part by a reticence of some fliers to adhere to the federal mask mandate and spurred in small part by alcohol consumption.

The Federal Aviation Administration said earlier this week that it has received 5,779 reports of unruly passengers – 4,156 of them related to the mask mandate – just this year alone. The mask rule, enacted last year, was extended to March 18, 2022.

The congressmen told the airline CEOs that carriers should be “equipped with the necessary skills to deter and mitigate dangerous situations as unruly passenger behavior spikes across the country.”

As such, Thompson and DeFazio asked airlines to offer employees paid time off as well as travel expenses to take the self-defense training, which is offered free by TSA federal air marshals.

American Airlines told Reuters in a statement that “the safety of our frontline team members as our highest priority, and we appreciate these lawmakers’ commitment to helping protect it. We are reviewing the letter.”

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