unruly passenger

Flight Attendants Take Self-Defense Courses as Reports of Unruly Passengers Goes Up

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Flight attendants usually have a calm job on flights.

"We are here to serve you,” flight attendant Yvonne said. “We are here to make you comfortable and we are here to keep you safe."

But lately, Yvonne, who only wanted to give her first name, is facing a new concern.

"Now to this anger that I've never seen in 44 years,” Yvonne said. “This is a very challenging time."

That's why she and other flight attendants are taking part in self-defense training.

Vince Sims
Flight attendant Yvonne practicing a self-defense move

"Especially after 9/11 or after what's going on in the world right now it's kind of like a good addition to have on a plane," flight attendant Pio Laban said.

Since 2018 more than 4,000 crew members have been trained in the Dallas area.

Taught by certified Air Marshal instructors, flight attendants learn tactical ways to defend themselves in case they are attacked by a passenger.

Vince Sims
Flight attendant Pio Laban practicing self-defense.

"We feel it's very vital for them to feel comfortable in the incidents they are dealing with on the aircrafts, the various assaults, and things of that nature," Federal Air Marshal Service Dallas Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge Byron Irby said.

According to the FAA as of October 12, 2001, there have been 4,724 reports of unruly passengers. 3,433 mask-related incidents have been reported.

With incidents on the rise, the course teaches physical moves and more.

"It's not just about putting hands on someone,” Irby said. “It's to help them get through a situation that may call for them not to put hands on an individual.  But if they do in turn have to defend themselves, we want them to be prepared."

Vince Sims

Being prepared is important. But they hope they never have to put these skills to the test.

"Our main goal is to keep peace on the plane and not increase any hostile situation," Laban said.

"I've never had to get physical with a passenger and it's not something I want to do," Yvonne said.

The TSA said these classes are available to all flight attendants free of charge. The classes are voluntary.

Assaulting or threatening a member of a flight crew is a federal crime. You could face civil penalties, criminal fines or imprisonment.

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