Protecting the Injured,
Every Step of the Way

Airline crews face numerous safety hazards, including assaults

The woman who assaulted a Delta Airlines flight attendant last fall over not following airline safety rules now faces a $27,500 fine issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The assault, in which a female passenger punched the flight attendant, once again highlights the threats and dangers faced by airline workers.

During these trying times, which includes challenges related to the COVID-19, tempers have flared, and, sometimes, airline workers are caught in the middle. In this case from Oct. 19, a dispute arose on a flight departing from Miami and heading to Atlanta. The female passenger’s traveling companion declined to wear a mask, secure his tray table and fasten his seatbelt. The passenger shouted and swore at the flight attendant and struck her under her left eye. Crew members then escorted the woman and her companion from the plane.

Violence, disease and excessive noise

In the past year, airlines have seen an increase in similar types of unruly behavior from airline passengers. In January, the FAA implemented a stricter policy addressing such conduct, stemming from situations involving participants in the Capitol riot in Washington, D.C., along with many passengers who disregard rules on wearing masks.

A physical assault is just one of many threats faced by airline workers. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Violent and disorderly passengers: More of these incidents continue to occur throughout the nation as some passengers fail to abide by airline rules such as wearing a mask. Mixing in the element of anger can lead to assaults on in-flight and gate crew members. Sometimes, alcohol also plays a factor.
  • Exposure to disease and emissions: COVID-19 is a global threat, and flight crews want to ensure to protect passengers and themselves by taking precautions such as wearing masks. One infected person may leave a wide imprint. Also, ground crews face different hazards when inhaling toxins and chemicals from aircraft exhaust and fuel.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries: Baggage handlers consistently deal with large and heavy luggage, while lifting and loading. Injuries may include strains, sprains and ligament damage.
  • Heat from warm temperatures: May through September in the Atlanta region prove challenging to outdoor airline workers. Ground crews are susceptible to dehydration and heat stroke.
  • Excessive noise: Ear protection is essential for ground crews due to exposure to loud aircraft noises. If they do not, they can expect hearing loss.
  • Slip and falls injuries: Any airline worker faces such dangers, potentially leading to broken bones, sprains and head injury.

Airline workers face enough safety-related challenges already. When unruly passengers unnecessarily stir up things through tantrums and violent behavior over perceived slights, it continues to jeopardize the safety of everyone on board a plane.