Flight attendants will soon get more rest. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is approving new rules increasing the required number of rest hours in between shifts.
More Rest Hours
The FAA is finalizing a rule to require flight attendants to get at least 10 hours of rest in between shifts, an increase from the previous mandate of 9 hours. The rule applies to flight attendants serving a shift of 14 hours or less. The change comes as a way to increase safety.
“I’m a pilot, and as any pilot can tell you, we cannot fly the plane without the safety expertise and support of flight attendants,” said acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolan. “Flight attendants are trained to take action during emergencies, administer first aid, conduct evacuations, manage medical emergencies.”
The new rule does not allow for any reduction in rest hours under any circumstances. The previous mandate allowed airlines to reduce rest times to 8 hours in some cases. The Association of Flight Attendants is praising the change, saying that flight attendants have long been overworked and fatigued.
“Proper rest is critical for flight attendants to do our work as aviation’s first responders,” Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson said in a statement following Tuesday’s announcement. “Flight attendants need this rest to do our jobs.”
The new rest rule does not affect airline pilots, as they were already guaranteed 10 hours of rest in between shifts.
Air Travel Issues
As air travel returns to pre-COVID pandemic levels, several major airlines are blaming crew shortages for delayed and canceled flights, and airlines are blaming sickness, mental health, and fatigue for those shortages.
“Sickness levels have gone through the roof, fatigue levels have gone through the roof, not because [flight attendants are] rejecting or they’re protesting in any way. It’s just that they can’t cope — they just can’t cope with the constant changes,” British flight attendant Kris Major told CNN.
Recently, the Southwest Airlines pilots union said pilot fatigue was the foremost threat to aviation safety in the United States. Pilot shortages also led to massive cuts in airline routes throughout the summer, including regional routes on American Airlines.
“COVID has only exacerbated the safety gap with long duty days, short nights, and combative conditions on planes,” Nelson said.
Officials hope the new FAA rule will help flight attendants get proper rest, which will lead to better immunity and mental health. It may also help recruit new flight attendants to combat crew shortages.
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