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Assaulting Airline Employees Must Have Serious Consequences

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December 19, 2016

Airline Passenger Service Agents are continuing to fight for protections against assault by passengers.

“We need to stop the abuse from customers,” said Ingrid Peredes, an Agent at Envoy. “We’re getting bags thrown at us. People are getting punched and slapped. Miami is a busy airport, and a lot of things are happening there. I’m a front-line employee at the curbside. Passengers are getting upset because we’re trying to charge for the bags, and they throw things at us and curse at us.”

CWA members have collected more than 2,000 petition signatures, calling on Congress to pass a national standard to protect airport customer service agents from “airport rage.” Agents from Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas so far have delivered petitions to members of Congress.

While it is a felony under federal law to assault or interfere with the duties of a flight crew member, including Flight Attendants and pilots, currently there are no such protections for agents. CWA member agents from American, Piedmont and Envoy have been collecting members’ stories that illustrate the dangers they face for elected officials.

The airlines offer no training on dealing with violent passengers, so agents are forced to rely on intervention from other agents, employees, and even passengers. Sometimes the airport police get involved, but in most cases, passengers face no consequences and are simply escorted to their flights by airline supervisors.

De Anna Davis, an Agent at Envoy in Beaumont, Tex. said: “We’re a small Category 4 airport, which means we don’t have police officers on duty. If an incident occurs and we can’t control the passenger or the situation, we have to dial 911. By the time they show up, it can escalate. Sometimes you have to walk away and close the door and wait for the police to knock on the door. I don’t like anyone to know where I park, because I’ve had people follow me outside, even when I’m helping a handicapped passenger get in their vehicle.”

The 2002 Aviation and Transportation Security Act did include provisions intended to protect ramp personnel, gate agents and others from this kind of abuse, but these protections have not been put in force.