Flight Attendants Urge Passengers to Report Extreme Temperatures on Planes with New App

Pushing DOT Adoption of Rules on In-Cabin Temperatures

WASHINGTON, DC (August 1, 2018) – Most airline passengers have suffered from uncomfortable temperatures on airplanes, often sweltering on the ground and then shivering in the air. But now they can help build the case for establishing rules to keep airplane temperatures within reasonable limits. A new mobile app – called 2Hot2Cold – allows passengers and flight crews to document and report extreme temperatures in aircraft cabins.

The discomfort of too hot or too cold airplanes can be frustrating and even pose health risks for passengers, but the problem is especially acute for flight crews who regularly experience temperature extremes that would not be tolerated in other workplaces. Excessive heat can cause everything from fatigue and dizziness to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It can also impair flight attendants’ ability to perform critical safety and security duties.

For more than a decade, flight attendants have urged government regulators to adopt in-cabin temperature standards. This month the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) formally petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue rules to limit temperature extremes on flights. As the AFA petition states, “there are currently no operational temperature standards that apply to the actual airplane environment for passengers and crews.”  Rules are needed “to prevent actual consumer harm.”

“This is a problem that can be easily fixed,” said AFA President Sara Nelson. “Some airlines have internal policies on temperature, but without consistent rules, the policies fail to meet acceptable standards and fixing extreme temperatures is often prioritized last. The fact is that no rules require airlines and airports to take this issue seriously. We know that the first step to fixing a problem is defining it. That’s why we developed the app and decided to issue thermometers to all AFA members. We will document just how bad this is and we hope we can encourage action before we experience a tragic event.”

Several well-publicized incidents dramatically underscore the severity of the problem.  In June 2017, an infant overheated and became non-responsive when a plane sat on a Denver tarmac. The baby was rushed by ambulance to a hospital for treatment. In 2013, several passengers forced to sit in the heat of Las Vegas fell ill, and 150 passengers suffered without air conditioning for 2½ hours on a plane in Phoenix.

Recommended Standard

AFA is recommending the adoption of a standard that would set a target temperature range inflight and on the ground of 65-75°F, with a maximum allowed temperature of 80°F inflight and on the ground. With the exception that if all inflight entertainment units are operating, then a maximum of 85°F is acceptable.

The standard was developed in 2007 and updated this year by a committee of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) working with aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and crewmember and passenger groups.  

The AFA petition urges DOT to adopt these standards, called ASHRAE 161, as regulations that apply to all U.S. commercial airlines and flights. It recommends that DOT encourage airlines to follow the standards prior to a final rule being issued. And it calls for the creation of an advisory committee to advise DOT on cabin environmental conditions “to ensure the highest levels of safety, health, and comfort for airline passengers and crewmembers.”

2Hot2Cold App

To help build the case for the standards, AFA has developed a free mobile app for passengers and flight crews to document and report incidents of extreme temperatures. The easy-to-use tool allows users to report in-cabin temperatures by flight. AFA will catalogue the information and share it with DOT and airlines. 

“The 2Hot2Cold app gives a voice to passengers,” said Nelson. “It’s a constructive way for them and flight attendants to express their discomfort and provide concrete evidence to bolster our efforts to secure reasonable temperatures on planes. This is an issue we face year ‘round. The energy among flight attendants to focus on a solution is extraordinary. The problem is bigger than anyone can imagine today and together we’re going to document it and put an end to it.”<

The app can be downloaded at:

App Store (iPhone/iPad)

Play Store (Android)

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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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