Flight Attendant Union Remembers Crew of Aloha Flight 243 on Workers Memorial Day

Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2018) — The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson released the following statement on 30th remembrance of Aloha Flight 243 and Workers Memorial Day:

“In 1970, the AFL-CIO declared April 28th as Workers’ Memorial Day, remembering those who have died on the job and redoubling our efforts to maintain and promote safety at work. The great union organizer and activist Mother Jones gave us the rallying slogan for the day, 'Mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living.' This is our charge and we take it seriously in everything we do to improve our contracts, organize the unorganized, and demand the safest regulations and standards for our jobs.

“Workers Memorial Day is particularly poignant to AFA members because on this date 30 years ago we lost our colleague C.B. Lansing, an Aloha Airlines Flight Attendant. You may remember the extraordinary photos of her aircraft, Aloha Flight 243, with the entire upper half of the front of the cabin ripped away in an explosive decompression triggered when small cracks in the hull gave way under pressurization at cruising altitude.

“Ms. Lansing was working in the aisle of the aircraft and was immediately blown overboard when the cabin ripped open. A second Flight Attendant was knocked off her feet and lay unconscious in the aisle. The third Flight Attendant that day, Michelle Honda, made everyone who shares this profession proud. From her position in the back of the aircraft, she crawled forward literally pulling herself up the aisle by the supports under each seat. Despite her own injuries, she checked on passengers, made sure they were strapped in and comforted the injured, while making sure every passenger donned a life vest. She worked her way to the front of the aircraft, tending to those most at risk in the area that was now open to the sky.

“Michelle 'fought like hell for the living.' When the plane touched down on Maui over 10 minutes later, she led a successful evacuation effort. Her heroic efforts were credited with ensuring that no passengers lost their lives that day. Michelle reacted to the praise with humility, declining the label of “hero” and saying she was just doing her job, the job of a first responder, the job of a professional Flight Attendant.

“In the wake of Southwest 1380, we remember why we do our work and remind the public that we are Aviation's First Responders. We are onboard every flight to ensure safe passage on their journey. When tragedy strikes, we are there to save lives.

“There are thousands of examples of heroic acts performed by Flight Attendants and millions of examples where, every day, a Flight Attendant is seen as someone’s hero. Workers Memorial Day is significant for all workers and the heroes we will never forget. Today we honor those who have lost their lives, and in doing so we honor those who fight like hell for the living and save lives every day.”

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The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 72 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.

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