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It is rather unfortunate to note that the global health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has not only led to an overall increase in tension and anxiety but has also contributed to the rising levels of violence and aggression on airplane flights. This concerning trend has been observed and corroborated by several airlines and aviation watchdog groups, who have noted a marked increase in air rage incidents since the pandemic’s start.

The ongoing pandemic has likely exacerbated the issue of air rage that has been plaguing the aviation industry for some time now. While the end of the pandemic is undoubtedly a cause for hope and optimism, it is important to acknowledge that the issue of air rage will remain a persistent and daunting challenge that requires sustained efforts and initiatives from all stakeholders in the aviation sector to be addressed effectively.

This has led flight attendants to renew their calls for mandated self-defense training. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the largest flight attendant union in the United States, has been pushing for this training for over 20 years.

The AFA strongly advocates for implementing self-defense training among flight attendants. This training is considered to be of paramount importance, as it enables the attendants to protect themselves from potential harm or physical assault by unruly passengers. This has become even more important in recent years due to the increasing number of high-profile incidents where attendants have been subjected to physical abuse, including being punched, kicked, and even stabbed. The AFA feels that given the unique nature of their job, it is critical that flight attendants receive proper self-defense training and tools to defend themselves to ensure their safety and well-being and the safety of the passengers they serve.

The AFA has also expressed significant concern regarding flight attendants’ mental health and well-being, who are often exposed to unruly and disruptive passengers during their duties. The stress and the emotional strain of these experiences can profoundly impact the mental health of these dedicated professionals, potentially leading to heightened levels of anxiety, depression, and other physiological symptoms.

However, as an organization representing the interests of flight attendants, the AFA believes that self-defense training can be an incredibly useful tool in helping these brave individuals deal with the stress and pressure of their jobs. Such training can help build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy, which can help flight attendants better manage their emotions and ultimately cope with the challenges they face daily.

The airlines have resisted calls for mandated self-defense training, arguing it is too expensive. However, the AFA believes that the cost of injuries to flight attendants outweighs the cost of training.

The issue of self-defense training for flight attendants will likely be debated when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill comes up in the fall. The AFA is hopeful that Congress will mandate self-defense training for flight attendants as part of the reauthorization bill.

In the meantime, the AFA continues offering its members self-defense training if they choose to participate. The union also provides its members with resources to deal with unruly passengers.

Currently, one of the most pressing concerns in the airline industry is the problem of air travel violence. This problem affects everyone involved in air travel, from passengers to flight attendants. In the past few years, there have been numerous reports of violent incidents on planes, including attacks on flight attendants.

These incidents not only put flight attendants’ safety at risk but also compromised the security and well-being of other passengers aboard the aircraft. Addressing this issue and providing flight attendants with the necessary tools to protect themselves in dangerous situations is essential.

One way to achieve this is by providing all flight attendants with mandatory and comprehensive self-defense training. By equipping them with the skills and knowledge required to handle violent situations, we can better ensure the safety and security of all those on board an aircraft. Sadly, we can not arm them with pepper spray.


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