Flight Attendants and 9/11 Pilot Widow Applaud Biden Administration for Moving to Close Massive Safety and Security Loophole

Washington, DC (August 24, 2023) — Today, the Department of Transportation issued a notice of intent to close a loophole that undermines safety and security rules for commercial aviation. A new business model that has “grown exponentially in the last 10 years” sells tickets only to those who can afford first class, skirts security screening, and obliterates scientifically defined proper rest and training for airline crew and other aviation workers. Flight Attendants and 9/11 pilot widow applaud the Administration’s action today. 

“Gaming the system to get a competitive leg up by putting all of us at risk can’t fly! Secretary Buttigieg and the Biden Administration are taking action to stop outrageous attempts to undermine fair competition in commercial aviation by skirting safety and security requirements that exist because my friends died. Never again! We are disgusted by the greed mongers who are willing to put our lives on the line for their payout,” stated Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “The irony should be lost on no one that the new business model is grounded in the idea that if you have money the rules don’t apply to you. Our union helped to sound the alarm and this Administration answered decisively for crew and passenger safety and the security of the entire country.” 

“I applaud the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration for taking action to make our aviation system safer and more secure,” said Ellen Saracini, whose late husband, Victor Saracini, was captain of United Flight 175 on 9/11 when hijackers killed him and nearly 3,000 others. “In recent years we've seen a massive increase in scheduled passenger service that operates under an entirely separate set of safety and security rules. One company even boasts about its ‘non-invasive security’ and markets itself as a ‘travel hack.’ Our aviation system should never be “hacked” and we should all be alarmed about an airline marketing itself based on a light security touch. DOT is right to identify and fix the safety and security risks associated with allowing scheduled passenger service under these lesser standards. I thank Secretary Buttigieg for his forward-looking initiative and for not waiting until, Heaven forbid, we had an accident or a terrorist incident before acting. I encourage the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration to follow Secretary Buttigieg’s leadership and ensure that the safety and security of our aviation system is not compromised.”

“We don’t fly when it’s not safe because we take our jobs as aviation’s first responders seriously and it’s our lives directly on the line too. President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg have our backs. They are making good on the promise to ‘Never Forget’ the reason we have the safety, health, and security regulations for commercial aviation. This administration doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk. This kind of leadership saves lives and makes our country a place where each of us matters,” Nelson concluded.  


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 over 75 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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