Reinforcing Our Role as Aviation's First Responders

Reinforcing Our Role as Aviation's First Responders

Dear AFA Members:

The past three weeks have been incredibly challenging for Flight Attendants following the events broadcast from the United Express, American and Delta flights. The mob mentality response to the video clips, with little correct information about the incidents, has put Flight Attendants in the cross hairs. We have been focused on trying to do a national de-escalation to keep travelers from coming to the plane with bias against crewmembers and the authority we must maintain to keep everyone safe.

Our focus in the media has been to remind the public that Flight Attendants are aviation's first responders charged with the safety, health and security of the passengers in our care. We have cited the changed conditions in the cabin to put people closer together than ever and the staffing cut to minimums. We have promoted to the public the reality that we are in this together and we need to work together to stay safe. The United MEC published a letter to members last week encouraging Flight Attendants to “continue to lean on each other to maintain the best of who we are. We can’t be second guessing ourselves when we need to protect the safety of the flight. Make every effort not to react to attempts to provoke us and stay focused on our mission as aviation’s first responders. The full resources of AFA in Washington, D.C. and here at United AFA, will be working to support Flight Attendants on the frontline and reinforcing for the public the critical role we play in keeping passengers safe.” This is a message for all of us.

The priority of our union is to support Flight Attendants at work and now that we have moved through some of the initial visceral public reaction, we can address the very serious backlash that is threatening our ability to do our jobs. This is one of the issues I discussed with Secretary Chao when we met last week and we will continue to work with regulators to address the very serious issues created by these events. We know you need support and good information in how to address consistency in safety regulations, the necessary support from our airlines in performing our work, the unenforced policies surrounding surveillance of crew movement and many other issues.

We are working with all of our experts in AFA Legal, Air Safety, Health & Security, EAP/Professional Standards, Government Affairs and Communications to coordinate with your local leaders at each of your airlines to best support you and address the many questions these past few weeks have raised.

I want to close by noting that negative experiences make deep impressions and can create terrible consequences. But we must also note that the vast majority of interactions we have are positive and we can especially celebrate the way crews across the industry have pulled together to support each other. As with everything we do, Flight Attendants have incredible emotional intelligence to assess the subtleties of every situation, step up for other crewmembers when they need a break and successfully get tens of thousands of flights and millions of people safely to their destination without event and even with a smile. Share those good encounters with each other too.

We will be communicating much more on this in the coming week. Fly safe and continue to look out for each other.

In Solidarity,

Sara Nelson
AFA International President


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