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Blumenthal Introduces Bill to Prevent Flight Attendant Fatigue

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced legislation to help prevent flight attendant fatigue.

“Too often flight attendants are pushed to the brink, enduring grueling shifts in the sky with little time off for rest,” Blumenthal said. “Flight attendants are the first responders when we fly, and we are all safer when they are confidently able to do their job. This commonsense bill would protect overworked flight attendants by requiring airlines to include flight attendants in their fatigue risk management plans and ensuring they get reasonable opportunities for rest. It’s time to restore some sanity to our skies.”

Extreme fatigue compromises flight attendants’ ability to carry out key tasks, including completing safety checklists, ensuring the plane can be evacuated within seconds of a crash landing, handling a medical emergency, dealing with disorderly passengers, taking care of unaccompanied minors, and assisting seniors and persons with special needs. On domestic flights, flight attendants are given as few as eight hours off between duty periods. This includes time spent deplaning the aircraft, transiting from the airport to a hotel, eating, sleeping, transiting back to the airport, and reboarding the aircraft. Commercial pilots, however, are guaranteed 10 hours off between duty periods. Air carriers are required to submit plans to the Federal Aviation Administration that include policies and procedures for reducing the risk of fatigue—but these fatigue management plans currently only apply to pilots and not flight attendants.

The bill would require air carriers to provide all flight attendants with scheduled rest periods of at least 10 consecutive hours between duty periods and to include flight attendants in the fatigue risk management plans. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) are original cosponsors of the bill.