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TSA Restarting Flight Attendant Self Defense Training as Unruly Passenger Reports Skyrocket

TSA Restarting Flight Attendant Self Defense Training as Unruly Passenger Reports Skyrocket

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is to restart flight attendant self-defense training amidst an alarming rise in the unruly disruptive passenger incidents which have seen flight attendants kicked, punched and spat at. In one recent incident, a flight attendant lost two teeth, while another was grabbed around the neck and choked by an irate passenger.

The Crew Member Self-Defense (CMSD) course as it’s officially known will start in early July and will be delivered by Federal Air Marshals. The program was suspended early last year at the outset of the pandemic when social distancing meant the physical close-quarter aspects of the course had to be scrapped.

“Through this training program, TSA’s Federal Air Marshals are able to impart their specialized expertise in defending against and deescalating an attack while in an aircraft environment,” explains 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 courses remain voluntary and are designed to supplement deescalation and self-defense training that flight attendants and pilots might already receive from their employer.

The free four-hour course is held at 24 courses across the United States and is open to any active flight crew member that works for a U.S. domestic carrier.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received more than 3,000 unruly passenger reports already this year as passengers rail against the federal face mask mandate. As of June 20, the agency had initiated 487 investigations against unruly passengers and brought enforcement proceedings in 60 cases.

By comparison, in 2019 the FAA only initiated 146 investigations in unruly passenger incidents. Despite the massive drop in passenger numbers last year, a sign of the times was already obvious with 183 cases initiated in 2020.

The FAA has slapped passengers with hundreds of thousands worth of civil penalties in the last six months in an attempt to deter disruptive behavior but the zero-tolerance measures appear to be having little effect.

Last week, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant was followed off a flight by a passenger who had been reprimanded for not wearing a face mask. While riding a transit train at Denver airport, the passenger allegedly punched and choked the flight attendant.

And on Friday night, a passenger on a United Express flight at Los Angeles Airport allegedly tried to break into the flight deck as the plane was taxiing for takeoff. When the passenger failed to get into the flight deck, he opened an emergency exit and slid down the inflatable chute to the tarmac below.

Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines

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