Federal aviation officials announced Tuesday that flight attendants will soon have more mandatory rest time between flights.
Current FAA rules say that in most cases, an airline must provide a flight attendant with a nine-hour rest period after being on duty for 14 hours or less.
The new rule increases the rest period to 10 hours between shifts.
“Flight attendants, like all essential transportation workers, work hard every day to keep the traveling public safe, and we owe them our full support,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. . “This new rule will make it easier for flight attendants to do their jobs, which in turn will keep us all safe in the air.”
Flight crew unions have fought hard for the change, saying flight attendants are severely fatigued and overworked after shifts of up to 14 hours.
The Federal Aviation Administration informed airlines about the upcoming rule changes last week, a source familiar with the policy said Monday.
The FAA had two public comment periods, in 2019 and 2021, on the proposed regulatory change. The agency said it reviewed more than 1,000 comments.
The change was first approved by Congress in 2018, but was not implemented by the Trump Administration.
Last week, House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) made it a priority to complete the rules before his upcoming retirement.
The final rule will take effect 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
“It’s time! As aviation’s first responders and last line of defense, it is critical that we are well rested and ready to perform our duties,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, in a statement.
“Covid has only exacerbated the security gap with long work days, short nights and combative conditions on airplanes,” Nelson said.
With demand increasing as pandemic restrictions eased, 2022 has been tough for flight attendants.
Allie Malis, who is also a government affairs representative at the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, a union that represents American Airlines aircrew, told CNN Travel last summer about “uncomfortable” situations in which crew, Delayed on incoming flights, she finds herself rushing through the airport to get her next job done.
Flight attendants say situations like these, along with unpredictable schedules, wreak havoc on the crew’s physical and mental well-being.
It’s not just in the United States where flight attendants say they are being slovenly.
“Illness levels have skyrocketed, fatigue levels have skyrocketed, not because (flight attendants) reject it or are protesting in any way. “They just can’t cope with the constant changes,” says British flight attendant Kris Major.
Featured image: Passengers and flight attendants board a flight from LaGuardia Airport to Kansas City International Airport on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)