While reading The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or any national paper, look for the articles about attacks on flight attendants.
Across the country on nearly every airline, the skies have become awash in unruly and disrespectful passengers.
Let me say upfront that I think the mask mandate is a good idea until we get vaccination rates well above where we are as a nation, which is only about 56 percent. Feel free to disagree, of course, but if a business or business group makes it a rule, then it is the rule.
When we buy a ticket to fly, we agree to the rules of the airline, like the weight of our suitcase, our seat assignment or that we board from a particular gate. One does not have the right, having purchased the ticket — a form of contractual agreement — to add 10 pounds to your suitcase with no charge or just sit where you want.
So too you have agreed to fly while wearing a face mask if that is the rule. I mention this because often that is the bone of contention, but it is not the only one. Apparently there is a desire to be up and walking the cabin at will, to try to access the flight deck, to not have the attendant take your tray/snack prior to landing — or for no particular reason at all. Some passengers hit the attendant in the head with a fully closed fist as they exit the plane.
It is time, well beyond time, that we ask our legislators to support a bill that would empower the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the unions for pilots and flight attendants to establish national laws that would make the attempt and the actual attack on crew members a federal crime. There should be a no-fly list that one is put on, not merely for the airline on which the attack occurs, but that runs across all airlines and flights that originate within our borders. Enough is enough.
According to the FAA, there have been nearly 5,115 incidents of unruly passengers as of November. More than 3,710 of those incidents were related to the wearing of face masks. Physical assault has become a common theme onboard our flights.
Flight attendants are not waiters. They are people who see that order and safety are maintained. In any emergency it is their skill and knowledge that will get your butt safely down the inflatable ramp or out on the wing on the water, as we saw in the Hudson River over a decade ago. Sure, they offer you coffee, but it is not the coffee you will need.
It is their skill of keeping calm in a moment of terror that you will need. It is their directing you to do what you should have read but mostly do not on the “pamphlet in the back of the seat in front of you.”
Yep, when the skies get bumpy and you’re scared; when you need something for your baby that you forgot; when you are having a panic attack — it is the flight attendant who will try to help you. Right now, the person across the aisle may feel that they need to punch them in the face or yell at them because he/she wants to get up during take-off or landing. Whom will you stand with?
Fines are all well and good, but often aren’t collected. And other than taking money out of a paycheck and not being able to fly that one airline, offenders can take that behavior to the next airline and punch out another crew member.
We need to make this stop by banning them from all flights after the first attack. It is domestic terrorism in the sky, pure and simple. Selfish and stupid actions deserve rebuke. We should stand with those who will save our lives.
Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She retired from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials.