CRAF and Evacuation Flights

CRAF and Evacuation Flights

August 26, 2021 — On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Defense activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program to utilize U.S. airlines to help ferry U.S. military, American citizens, and Afghan evacuees from military bases and other staging areas in the Middle East and Europe to the U.S.

This is the third time CRAF has been activated since its creation, giving the U.S. military quick aircraft to supplement its hauling capacity. It was first activated during the Persian Gulf War to bring passenger jets, cargo transports and crews to aid the deployment of U.S. troops and supplies to the region from August 1990 to May 1991, and their eventual return. The second was for “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” from February 2002 to June 2003.

Our efforts over the last year to fight for the Payroll Support Program (PSP) were not just about our jobs, it was about preserving a key industry for our economy and remaining ready to serve our country as necessary. If PSP had not been enacted, airlines would likely not have been able respond quickly to support the U.S. military. 

Flight Attendants raise our hands to help immediately and every time. This time is no different. Already, AFA Flight Attendants at several airlines are working flights—safely ushering thousands of evacuees to the U.S.

Evacuation flight conditions can be quite difficult, but also extremely rewarding. When working these flights, Flight Attendants should prepare for long duty days, intense conditions onboard, and unanticipated operational delays upon arrival. AFA EAP has provided a helpful guide for this type of flying. Flight Attendants should also plan to pack supplies for personal use including water, sanitation wipes, gloves, extra masks, and normal supplies.

We are engaged with airline management and the government related to evacuation flying in order to address issues for Flight Attendants. Each AFA Master Executive Council (MEC) - the locally elected Flight Attendants at your airline - at airlines involved in evacuation flights are engaged with airline management directly on any needed negotiations, implementation, and real time support during operations.

AFA EAP is always available at 844-232-2228, Ext. 1.

Considerations for CRAF Evacuation Flights from Our AFA EAP Committee

If you are considering working an evacuation flight or if you have been scheduled for this important work, please consider the following stress prevention and management tips:

Expect a Range of Emotions

Expect a range of emotions from those you are evacuating. In the wake of an international crisis, feelings are far too strong and complex to be predictable and organized. Confusion, fear, agitation, grief, disbelief and anger are but a few of the expressions you may hear or see. If you are not familiar with the cultural nuances of how these feelings may be expressed, you too may feel confused and uncertain about how to respond.

Bridge the Emotional and Cultural Divide with Your Interpersonal Skills

Human connections are a main ingredient of the recovery process. A calming presence and expressions of genuine concern by you will offer a safe and respectful atmosphere that supports providing as much control as possible for one whose life has just been shattered.

Be Especially “Teaming”

Your flying partners are your most immediate source of support and assistance. A briefing before the flight that includes brainstorming concerns and needs and creating a buddy system to monitor each other’s stress reactions may prove especially helpful and supportive.

Be Intentional in Your Own Self-Care

Exposure to those who have been traumatized can be especially impactful. Self-care activities are more important than ever. Before and after your flights, be mindful to engage in activities that have proven to be healthy and healing to you in the past whether it's exercising, praying, talking to others or just sticking to routines that make you feel balanced and grounded.

Remember, the AFA EAP is also available to you for peer support and assistance. You can find your local EAP Committee Representatives at or through the AFA EAP Helpline at 844-232-2228, Ext. 1.

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