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Passenger Rage is So Bad the TSA is Offering Free Self Defense Classes

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Jul 29, 2021

Amid a wave of violent attacks from passengers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is restarting self-defense classes designed specifically for flight crews and gate agents.

The classes, which the TSA paused due to the pandemic, are starting this month.

Safety is a core responsibility of flight crews while onboard an aircraft. Recent legislation has increased penalties for abusing inflight and gate agents, imposing steep fines, lifetime bans, and even prison time for attackers. The FAA has fined some passengers as much as half a million dollars and implemented a “zero tolerance” policy towards lawbreakers. The Machinists and Aerospace Union was part of a coalition of labor and industry groups that pushed hard for increased efforts to protect airline workers.

While the penalties may discourage some attacks, they do not prevent all of them. Anti-mask and political ragers, drunks, and the usual “you’re not telling me what to do” crowd can still go on the attack. And, some of these violent encounters can pose real threats to flight crews and passengers.

In July, a woman was duct-taped to her seat after trying to open the aircraft door mid-flight. The American Airlines flight had 190 passengers on board. In June, a Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta was forced to land in Oklahoma City when an off-duty airline employee began assaulting flight attendants. Overall, airlines have reported more than 2,000 cases of misconduct directed at employees in 2021. 

Hence, the TSA is giving flight crews free self-defense training. 

“Through this training program, TSA’s Federal Air Marshals are able to impart their specialized expertise in defending against and de-escalating an attack while in an aircraft environment,” said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “While it is our hope that flight crew members never have need for these tactics, it is critical to everyone’s safety that they be well-prepared to handle situations as they arise.”

The classes are led by certified instructors who train flight crews to deal with violent encounters in an aircraft setting.

In addition to simple martial arts maneuvers, flight crew members also learn to identify and deter potential threats before they happen. The four-hour classes are available at 24 locations around the country and are free of charge. Active airline workers are eligible for the training, including gate, ramp, ticket counter agents, flight attendants, and pilots. 

Interested airline workers with an active employee or crew number can register through the TSA website.

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