Flight Attendant Union Implores the FAA to Rule That Every Passenger on a Plane Must Have a Seat with Proper Restraint

WASHINGTON (July 19, 2019) – On the 30th remembrance of the United Flight 232 Sioux City crash that killed 111 people including an unrestrained infant, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA) calls on the FAA and lawmakers to ensure that every passenger is secured in an aircraft seat, regardless of age.

AFA President Sara Nelson writes, “On the 30th remembrance of United Flight 232, AFA again implores the FAA to rule that every passenger must have a seat with a proper restraint, regardless of age, and for lawmakers to take action to ensure this is implemented as soon as possible. The current practice of merely recommending that infants and small children under the age of two be in child restraint seats (CRS) during critical phases of flight is inadequate to protect our most vulnerable passengers.”

AFA submitted testimony for the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation “State of Aviation Safety” hearing this week, calling attention to the 30 year remembrance and the NTSB recommendations following investigation of the Sioux City DC-10 crash.

“Flight attendants are critical to passenger safety, especially in the event of an emergency. At no time was this more evident than the crash landing of United Flight 232 on this day thirty years ago, when a brave flight crew jumped into action and saved more than 100 lives,” said Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “This day in history is also a sobering reminder that ensuring safety is the most important work that my Committee does. Over the years, I’ve been proud to advocate on behalf of our flight crews and passengers, and I will continue to fight to make our system even safer.”

Currently, the FAA has no rules that require children under the age of two to be secured safely in their seats. The testimony notes, “Onboard, a coffee pot has more protection than an infant in the event of a crash. The captain instructs everyone to buckle up for protection against severe turbulence, with the exception of our smallest passengers.”

"Thirty years later, we must remember the lives lost in the heartbreaking United 232 crash and make sure we’re applying the lessons learned from that fateful incident to prevent future tragedies,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). “I’m proud to stand with AFA-CWA as we continue working to strengthen our laws and policies to ensure air travel remains safe and reliable for all of us."

Susan White, a current flight attendant and a member of the crew of United Flight 232, urges Congress to keep children safe:

“As we prepared the cabin for an emergency landing, we helped parents wrap their babies in blankets on the floor,” White said. “We had to tell mothers not to hold their children as we all faced certain danger. It was disturbing giving instruction knowing the child’s safety was in jeopardy by not being strapped into their own seat. I urge Congress to pass legislation to ensure every child has a safe seat on board.”

Flight attendants like Susan are in charge of making sure that everyone is safely secured in their seats while inflight, and passengers under the age of two should be no exception. The current practice is simply inadequate and puts small children on every flight at risk.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA represents 50,000 of aviation’s first responders at 20 airlines.

Full Testimony


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 73 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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