Flight attendants union calls on Southwest Airlines to take action

(NEXSTAR) – A union representing thousands of Southwest Airlines flight attendants is calling on the CEO to take action to better protect the carrier’s crew from unruly and violent passengers.

Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, described some of the disruptive behaviors a letter to Southwest CEO Gary C. Kelly on Monday, including an incident that resulted in facial injuries to a flight attendant and the loss of two teeth.

Southwest Airlines has since confirmed an incident on Sunday morning in which a passenger repeatedly ignored crew instructions and became physically violent.

“This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” Montgomery wrote.

“Unfortunately, this is just one event among many,” she added. “I am writing to you today because we cannot tolerate our dear Cohearts being abused in this way, and because I am asking for your help and leadership in putting an end to these transvestites.

The union letter demanded that Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, seen here in March 2020, take several steps to better protect his passenger flight attendants in an “already volatile environment.” (Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)

On behalf of the union, which represents more than 15,000 Southwest flight attendants, Montgomery made several demands on Kelly, including the need for Southwest to publicly speak out against bad behavior and to clearly describe the “consequences” to customers, which can range from civil penalties to criminal charges. and a possible prison sentence. She further urged Kelly to ask the government to increase the number of Federal Air Marshals in the skies.

Montgomery also said Southwest should “better use” its shortlist of travelers for unruly passengers, including those who challenge federal mask warrants.

“No passenger should be removed from a flight just to be allowed to board the very next Southwest Airlines flight after a non-compliance incident. We ask you to take a firm stand to make sure unruly passengers are not welcome to travel with us, period, period, ”she wrote.

These measures, Montgomery said, were needed more than ever as in-flight alcohol sales pick up in an “already volatile environment.”

In response to the union’s letter, a Southwest spokesperson released a statement confirming an incident of physical assault on Flight 700 from Sacramento to San Diego on Sunday morning. The statement also briefly reiterated Southwest’s position on unruly passengers, but did not specifically respond to Montgomery’s requests.

“We do not tolerate or condone verbal or physical abuse by our flight crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers,” the statement said.

The FAA had also publicly acknowledged a “Worrisome increase” in violent or disruptive behavior as early as January, when the agency announced its zero tolerance policy for unruly passengers. The FAA specifically noted a “proliferation” of such behavior resulting from the refusal of passengers to wear masks and “following the violence of January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol,” according to An order signed by FAA Chief Steve Dickson.

Earlier this month, the FAA also confirmed that US airlines had reported 1,300 incidents of unruly passengers since February. TWU Local 556 says Southwest flight attendants were forced to deal with “477 incidents of passenger misconduct” during a five-week period in April and May alone.

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